Four militants suspected to be Al-Qaeda-afilliated have been shot dead by army fire in the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar
AFP , Thursday 11 Aug 2011
Four suspected Al-Qaeda members have been killed by army fire outside the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar, most of which has fallen under the control of Islamist militants, a local official said Thursday.
The suspects were killed when their positions were hit by army shells in the villages of Al-Khamla and Bajdar outside Zinjibar, the capital of the lawless Abyan province, the official told AFP requesting anonymity.
Fierce clashes erupted Wednesday between the army's 25th Mechanised Brigade and Islamist militants who are said to be members of the "Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law)," witnesses said.
Hundreds of armed men belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked group took control of most of Zinjibar in late May and laid siege to base of the 25th Mechanised Brigade.
On August 1, officials claimed that 15 suspected members of Al-Qaeda were killed in army raids in and around Zinjibar.
US commanders have repeatedly expressed concern that the jihadists have been taking advantage of a protracted power vacuum in Sanaa to expand their operations.
Since January, protesters have been demanding the ouster of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in Saudi Arabia since early June being treated for wounds sustained in a bomb blast at his Sanaa palace.