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19 al-Qaida militants killed in battles with Yemeni army forces


21:00, November 22, 2011

ADEN, Yemen, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- At least 19 al-Qaida militants were killed and dozens of others were injured early Tuesday in artillery attacks and gunbattles with the Yemeni army forces backed by tribesmen in the flashpoint southern province of Abyan, an army officer said.

The army soldiers launched an intense artillery shelling targeting various strongholds of the al-Qaida militants in and around Zinjibar city, the provincial capital of Abyan province, the local army officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"Artillery shells and Katyusha rockets hit the terrorists group 's positions in Bajdar neighborhood, killing at least 10 militants, including an Algerian, an Egyptian, and two Somalis," the officer said.

Elsewhere in Abyan, gun battles broke out between pro- government tribesmen and al-Qaida militants in the Modiyah district, some 139 km northeast of Zinjibar, after a roadside bomb killed four tribal fighters on Monday, a tribal chief told Xinhua.

"In the retaliatory attack, the tribal fighters stormed a house of a local al-Qaida leader in Modiyah, killing nine terrorists and injuring three others," he said, adding that "the local al-Qaida leader was captured by the tribesmen after the armed confrontations."

Abyan, some 480 km south of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, has been the scene of fierce daily fighting after militants from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) captured Zinjibar and at least three other towns in May.

The AQAP militants are apparently taking advantage of Yemen's 10-month political turmoil to bolster their military operations and control in the lawless southern and eastern parts of the country.

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