Soldiers killed in al-Qaeda attack

2011-09-11 17:46

Aden - A military official said on Sunday that two Yemeni soldiers had been killed and four others wounded when a mine exploded in the southern city of Zinjibar where troops have been fighting to expel al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The Yemeni government announced on Saturday that the army had "liberated" Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, which was seized in May by a militant group called the Partisans of Shari’ah, believed to be linked to al-Qaeda.

A Yemeni military official said the army had only reclaimed control of the northern and eastern parts of the city, contradicting official government reports that they had retaken the entire town.

The official said intermittent clashes continued throughout Zinjibar on Sunday, despite the army's claim that most militants had already fled the city to the nearby town of Jaar, another militant stronghold.

He said the army was reluctant to enter the city centre because of concerns that the fleeing militants could have planted mines before withdrawing.

Southern Yemen has seen a sharp rise in violence since mass anti-government protests threw into question the entrenched presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh and weakened the central government.

Militants linked to al-Qaeda seized control of three towns in Abyan in May and since then government troops and dissident fighters had been fighting to take them back.

The United Nations said the violence had displaced more than 100 000 Yemenis in the south in recent months.