August 2, 2011
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Yemeni security official says airstrikes last week accidentally killed four army officers and a tribal leader, dealing a major blow to the effort to push Islamist fighters from a southern town.
Ali Gaadani, a regional security chief in Abyan province, said Tuesday that two colonels, a lieutenant colonel, a major and a powerful tribal sheik were among the 40 people killed in the airstrikes.
Al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants overran the provincial capital of Zinjibar in May, and security forces have been battling them since.
The airstrikes Saturday accidentally hit a group of tribal fighters and army soldiers — just days after they launched an offensive against the militants.
Gaadani said the strike caused the fighters to withdraw, allowing the militants to widen the area under their control.