Yemen security, militant clashes kill 80 over two days
At least 80 people have been killed in Yemen over the last two days as fighting erupted between militants - believed to be linked to al-Qaeda - and government forces, security sources and local media said Tuesday, dpa reported.
Yemeni troops were being reinforced in the strategic town of Laudar, in the southern Abyan province, a military source told dpa, as al-Qaeda-linked militants continued their assault on the southern town for a second day running.
Some 20 soldiers and local tribal fighters had died defending the city against the local militant group Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islam), the source said.
At least 45 insurgents had also been killed in the two days of fighting, according to the military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The town lies on a strategic road north of Abyan's capital, Zinjibar, which is controlled by Ansar al-Sharia.
Earlier Tuesday, 15 soldiers were killed in an Ansar al-Sharia attack on a checkpoint in Mareb province, in central Yemen, Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera reported.
The fight against al-Qaeda is a top priority for the new Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has pledged to hit the group's hideouts.
Insurgents have expanded their influence over several towns in southern Yemen in recent months, taking advantage of a weak central government and a year of political turmoil in the impoverished country.