Report: 42 killed as army, al-Qaeda clash in southern Yemen
Government troops and insurgents linked to al-Qaeda Sunday fought pitched battles in southern Yemen in which at least 42 people were killed, the Yemeni website Mareb Press reported.
The deaths include 30 army soldiers and 12 al-Qaeda fighters as both sides were engaged in five-hour clashes near Zinjibar in the volatile southern province of Abyan, according to the report, dpa reported.
Backed by aerial and ground reinforcements from the neighbouring province of Aden, the government troops retook military positions in the area seized earlier in the day by al-Qaeda fighters, said the site
Earlier on Sunday, al-Qaeda insurgents had raided several army outposts near Zinjibar, and killed at least six government soldiers, said military sources.
The attackers had also seized tanks, rocket launchers, guns and ammunition from these positions, according to Mareb Press.
The assaults came a day after two suicide bombers, believed to be affiliated to al-Qaeda, targeted an army camp south-east of the Yemeni capital Sana'a. Four soldiers were injured in that bombing.
At least 25 people were also killed last week when a suicide bomber, reportedly with links to al-Qaeda, attacked a presidential complex in southern Yemen, hours after the parliament in Sana'a swore in Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi as the country's new president.
Al-Qaeda radicals, believed to have a strong foothold in southern Yemen, have increased their action since Hadi's swearing-in on February 25.
Hadi, who ended 33-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, has vowed to fight al-Qaeda across the country, calling it a "religious and national duty."
Meanwhile, Abdullah Idriss, an education official in the town of Rada'a, some 150 kilometres south-east of Sana'a, survived on Sunday what local media called an assassination attempt.
Idriss, who also heads the town's branch of Saleh's General People's Congress Party, sustained injuries when a bomb exploded inside his car, almotamar.net, the party's mouthpiece, reported.
Two companions were also injured in the incident.
A battalion of armed extremists with links to al-Qaeda captured Rada'a in January before releasing it following tribal mediation.
Al-Qaeda militants have taken advantage of a year of political turmoil in Yemen and the weak central government to expand their influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.