Six Yemen troops killed in clashes with 'Qaeda'

AFP , Monday 20 Jun 2011

At least six Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes with gunmen linked to Qaeda terrorist network in southern city of Zinjibar

Six Yemeni soldiers, including two officers, were killed in clashes with Al-Qaeda-linked militants near the gunmen-held southern city of Zinjibar overnight, an officer said on Monday.

The officer from the 119th Artillery Brigade said army units "fought fierce battles on Sunday night with Ansar al-Sharia (Supporters of Islamic Sharia law) gunmen connected to Al-Qaeda."

"Six members of the brigade were killed, including Colonel Jamal al-Jaafi, and eight others were wounded," he told AFP, adding that the militants had also suffered casualties.

He said that air support had been called in and warplanes hit several areas held by the militants.

Hundreds of gunmen took control of Zinjibar on May 29 in battles in which some 90 soldiers died.

Officials say the militants are connected to Al-Qaeda but opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh accuse his government of exaggerating a jihadist threat to head off Western pressure on his 33-year rule.

Yemen is the home of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an affiliate of the slain Osama bin Laden's militant network. The group is accused of anti-US plots including an attempt to blow up a US-bound aircraft on Christmas Day, 2009.


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