Al-Qaeda militants reported killed in US strikes in Yemen
Thirty suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed Thursday in US airstrikes in southern Yemen, broadcaster Al-Arabiya reported quoting Yemeni military officials.
The air raids were said to have freed a Yemeni military unit besieged for several weeks by al-Qaeda groups in the southern province of Abyan, dpa reported.
Yemeni authorities have denied direct US participation in their fight against al-Qaeda, but the US confirmed in June that it was carrying out what it described as "anti-terrorism" operations in Yemen.
Previously, broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that large explosions had been heard in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz.
Taiz has been a focal point of anti-government protesters since a political conflict erupted last February over calls for the country's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down after 32 years in power.
Meanwhile, overnight clashes were also reported outside Yemen's southern city of Zinjibar, where three soldiers and six militants were killed, Lebanese television reported quoting official sources.
Militants linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization were believed to be attempting to regain control of Zinjibar, Yemen's largest city in the southern Abyan province, which is said to have come under their control since May.
Loud explosions were also heard across the province of Abyan.
Yemen has repeatedly said its forces are making gains against al-Qaeda militants. It said on Wednesday that it had pushed back militants from an area around 8 kilometres outside Zinjibar.
The country's political opponents, however, have accused Saleh of handing over the province to al-Qaeda militants in a bid to gain military and political support from the West in order to stay in power.
On Wednesday, Saleh accused the opposition of "corruption, lying, and deception" in a broadcast speech live from the Saudi' capital Riyadh where he is currently recovering from injuries sustained in an assault on his presidential palace June 3.
He described the opposition as "arms dealers" that are exploiting the youth protesters to overthrow his regime.
Also on Thursday, skirmishes erupted in the capital Sana'a between the elite Republican Guards and the defected army forces of the 1st Armored Division.
Sporadic explosions were heard from a border area where both conflicting forces are located in the 50th Road in the capital, witnesses told the German Press Agency dpa.