Heavy shelling kills 16 'Qaeda' fighters in Yemen

AFP , Sunday 18 Mar 2012

Yemeni officials say that missiles fired from sea killed 16 suspected militants in Zinjibar, a jihadist stronghold

Missiles fired from the sea slammed into Al-Qaeda positions in the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar on Sunday killing at least 16 suspected militants, a local official said. He said the heavy shelling began overnight targeting the northeastern suburbs of Zinjibar, which jihadists have controlled since May following fierce fighting with government troops.

"Many bases of Al-Qaeda were destroyed," and 16 jihadists were killed, the official said on condition of anonymity. The attacks were launched from the sea, he added.

Witnesses in the nearby town of Jaar said the bodies of 16 gunmen were buried in a makeshift graveyard in an ammunition factory. The corpses were torn to pieces. Yemeni forces also launched air raids south of Jaar, another stronghold of Al-Qaeda, the official said.

Al-Qaeda militants have exploited the weakening central government in Sanaa to strengthen their presence in the country, especially across the restive south and southeast.

Zinjibar is the capital of Abyan province, a stronghold of the jihadists' local affiliate Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, whose militants fight under the banner of Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law).

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