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Al-Qaida militants take over town in southeast Yemen: official

(Xinhua)

13:59, September 07, 2011

SANAA, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Al-Qaida militants Tuesday seized Rowda town in Yemen's southeast province of Shabwa, a few miles away from the location of TOTAL-led Yemeni Liquefied Natural Gas ( LNG) Company, a provincial security official told Xinhua.

"The militants of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) took over Rowda town following fierce battles with government forces backed by the Yemeni air force," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"They (militants) are now advancing to the port city of Balhaf, to besiege the government troops guarding the LNG headquarters of the French oil giant TOTAL," said the official.

Shabwa, some 458 km southeast of the capital Sanaa, is considered to be another stronghold of hundreds of al-Qaida militants, including the wanted U.S.-born Yemeni cleric, Anwar al- Awlaki.

In Shabwa's neighboring province of Abyan, the government forces backed by U.S. Marine troops and air power have been fighting al-Qaida militants for more than three months after the terrorists took over Abyan's provincial capital city of Zinjibar in late May.

The militants also seized Abyan's cities of Shaqra and Jaar and large parts of the coastal area of Dovis.

An intelligence official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the AQAP insurgents are launching "sporadic attacks on the government forces stationed in the southern province of Lahj to hinder the country's largest military base of Al-Anad from reinforcing troops in Abyan and Shabwa."

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