Yemen troops may have killed civilians

2011-07-09 13:30

Sana'a - A leading rights group says Yemeni troops may have killed dozens of civilians caught in the crossfire as government troops battle al-Qaeda-linked militants in the country's restive south.

Human Rights Watch cites accounts from several residents who fled the fighting in the southern Abyan province where the government is battling Islamic militants after losing control over the provincial capital, Zinjibar, and another town.

In a statement on Saturday, the New York-based group also says the militants "may have unlawfully placed civilians at risk by deploying in densely populated areas and engaging in looting and other abuses".

There are concerns al-Qaeda is exploiting Yemen's instability amid the popular uprising seeking the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.