Thursday, July 26, 2012

Al-Qaida militants attack pro-gov't tribesmen in southern Yemen, 3 killed

ADEN, Yemen, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Scores of al-Qaida militants attacked two checkpoints of pro-government tribesmen in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Wednesday evening, killing at least three people and wounding five others, a government official told Xinhua.

The al-Qaida militants raided two checkpoints held by pro- government tribesmen in the Batees area in Abyan province, sparking a deadly gunfight that left at least three people killed and five others wounded, the local government official said on condition of anonymity.

"Pro-government tribesmen fought off al-Qaida's attack, forcing its militants to flee back to Abyan's mountainous areas," the government official said.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, locally known as Ansar al- Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, in a text message obtained by Xinhua.

"Our holy warriors of Ansar al-Sharia this evening carried out the first successful attack on the checkpoints around Batees village... a number of tribesmen were killed and some others injured," read the message.

The Yemeni government forces have been fighting al-Qaida militants in the the southern province of Abyan for years, and hundreds of soldiers have lost their lives.

In the past two months, a U.S.-backed offensive managed to expel al-Qaida militants from their major strongholds in the southern province of Abyan, recapturing its capital Zinjibar, towns like Jaar, Shakra and several villages, which they had controlled for nearly one year during the political unrest in Yemen.

However, the al-Qaida militants still have a strong presence in the Mahfad town and some mountainous areas in Abyan.

Fighting al-Qaida militants in the restive south is one of the challenges confronting current Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has promised to launch a national dialogue to settle disputes among all political factions and to uproot the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida.

2012-07-26 04:22:42

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