12 al-Qaida fighters, 8 government soldiers killed in Yemen's Abyan: officials

10:23, July 31, 2011      

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At least 12 al-Qaida militants and eight government soldiers, including two officers, were killed in battles in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Saturday, medics and officials said.

A doctor at Razi Hospital in Jaar city of Abyan told Xinhua that the hospital received 12 bodies belonging to al-Qaida fighters and other 19 militants who were injured during battles with government forces of the 119th Army Brigade overnight in Khamila and Dio areas in western Zinjibar.

Meanwhile, a local official told Xinhua that the ongoing clashes in Khamila area between the government troops and al-Qaida militants left eight soldiers, including two officers, dead.

The Yemeni warplanes continued air raids on Saturday on al- Qaida hideouts, the official said, adding that air strikes on Friday killed three al-Qaida militants and mistakenly killed 25 armed tribesmen who supported the government forces against al- Qaida.

"The fierce battles that began after al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on May 29 seized Zinjibar, the provincial capital city of Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, have forced 90,000 local residents to flee their homes in Abyan to neighboring port city of Aden," the head of Internal Displaced People (IDPs) in Aden, Hashim al-Hamly, told Xinhua by phone.

Al-Hamly complained of severe shortages in humanitarian aids, especially the foodstuffs for children, in covering the daily requirement of the already camping IDPs as well as in receiving the daily influx of IDPs from Abyan, warning of a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

Minister of the Parliament and Shura Council's Affairs, Ahmed al-Kuhlani, who supervises the IDPs, told Xinhua that "We are facing big humanitarian problem and the Yemeni government has launched an urgent appeal to the international community to provide humanitarian relief to the Abyan's IDPs."

The Yemeni government blamed the security problem in Abyan on the six-month-long street protests by the opposition coalition to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh which triggered clashes and deterioration in the security situation.

UN envoy Jamal bin Omar, who left Yemen following a two-week visit to mediate conciliation dialogue between the ruling party and opposition, warned on Friday that Yemen's security may collapse if the two sides failed to reach a compromise deal as soon as possible.

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