Dozens killed in fresh Yemen clashes

July 31st, 2011 - 1:54 am ICT by BNO News  

SANAA (BNO NEWS) — Dozens have reportedly been killed after fresh clashes erupted in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan and northeastern province of Sanaa, officials said on Saturday.

At least 12 al-Qaida militants and eight government soldiers, including two officers, were killed in battles in Khamila and Dio areas in western Zinjibar of Abyan. A doctor told Xinhua news agency that his hospital received 12 bodies belonging to al-Qaida fighters and other 19 militants who were injured.

The news agency also reported that Yemeni warplanes continued air raids on Saturday on al- Qaida hideouts, after air strikes on Friday killed three al-Qaida militants and mistakenly killed 25 armed tribesmen who supported the government forces, according to a local official.

“The fierce battles that began after al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on May 29 seized Zinjibar, the provincial capital city of Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, have forced 90,000 local residents to flee their homes in Abyan to neighboring port city of Aden,” the head of Internal Displaced People (IDPs) in Aden, Hashim al-Hamly, told Xinhua by phone.

Minister of the Parliament and Shura Council’s Affairs, Ahmed al-Kuhlani, who supervises the IDPs, said the government has launched an urgent appeal to the international community to provide humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, at least five opposition-backed armed tribesmen were killed by security forces in Arhab district near the capital Sanaa, a security official said.

“Republican Guards shelled missiles and artillery on hideouts of the armed tribesmen in Arhab, who sided with protesters who demanded the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tried on Thursday to storm the Republican Guards’ military base, killing five gunmen and injuring several others,” the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

At least 40 soldiers and 35 tribesmen were killed on Thursday in fierce battles between tribesmen and Saleh’s troops. Arhab district has witnessed sporadic clashes between Republican Guards and opposition armed tribesmen since late May, which have left dozens dead and forced hundreds of families to flee the area.

The Yemeni government blamed the security problem in Abyan on the six-month-long street protests by the opposition coalition to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The president has been in Saudi Arabia since he was wounded along with other government officials in the bomb attack that hit the mosque of the presidential palace in Sanaa on June 3.

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