Three key al-Qaeda operatives killed in Yemen

Arab World Materials 12 May 2012 19:05 (UTC +04:00)

Three terrorist leaders with links to al-Qaeda have been killed in clashes between the Yemeni army and militant insurgents in the southern town of Laudar, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday, dpa reported.

Two of the men were killed on Friday in artillery shelling by the army on the outskirts of Laudar, the ministry's website reported.

The third was shot dead on Thursday by tribal fighters backing the army in a campaign against insurgents suspected of ties with al-Qaeda, according to the report.

The trio, described as "dangerous" by the ministry, were not named.

Laudar lies on a strategic road north of Zinjibar, the capital of the province of Abyan, where the radical self-styled group Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Sharia) is believed to exert a lot of control.

Insurgents with suspected links to al-Qaeda have widened their influence in southern Yemen, taking advantage of a weak central government and a year of political turmoil in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, who took office in February, has vowed to fight al-Qaeda, calling it a "religious and national duty."

Meanwhile, suspected secessionists have seized two army positions in southern Yemen, local media reported Saturday.

Scores of insurgents, believed to be affiliated to the separatist Southern Movement, took control of the outposts after attacking them late Friday in the southern province of Daleh, reported Al-Masdar Online.

The attackers also seized machine guns and ammunition left behind by the soldiers, the report said, citing local sources.

The Southern Movement is seeking independence for the country's southern provinces.

President Hadi has pledged to address the concerns of southern separatists and northern rebels in his attempts to strengthen security in Yemen.