Monday, April 9, 2012

At least 60 soldiers killed in fighting with al-Qaida in southern Yemen: official

SANAA, April 9 (Xinhua) -- At least 60 government soldiers were killed in ongoing battles with al-Qaida militants in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Monday, a security official told Xinhua.

"According to the latest security report from the ongoing battles with al-Qaida in Lauder town, we have lost at least 60 soldiers from the 111th Armored Army Brigade," the official in Abyan's neighboring province of Aden told Xinhua by phone on condition of anonymity.

He declined to provide further information, but said "the situation in Abyan is quite bad and we get update reports every 30 minutes... until now, we do not have the specific number of casualties among the al-Qaida group."

The fighting broke out early Monday morning after the terrorist group raided outpost of the government troops in Lauder town, 150 km northeast of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan. The official said the town is still under control of the government troops.

However, a spokesman of the resurgent al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) spoke to Xinhua from the AQAP-held town of Jaar in Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, "most parts of Lauder were still under control of the government troops, but we have captured many areas in the town and seized a large quantity of heavy weapons from the army, and killed scores of them."

"The battle is still ongoing with 111th military brigade in Lauder. Three of Mujahideen (holy warriors) were killed, and 13 others were wounded, including three in critical condition," the spokesman said anonymously.

"We will collect information about the casualties and issue a statement about the whole situation in Lauder after the battle ends," he added.

Earlier in the day, a security official in Aden told Xinhua that the death toll from both sides reached 23 and dozens of others were wounded.

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