Sunday, 29 August 2010

Eight soldiers killed in south Yemen suspected Qaeda attack

Source: AFP , By Fawaz al-Haidari 29/08/2010

ADEN, Yemen — Eight Yemeni soldiers and a civilian were killed on Saturday in an attack by suspected Al-Qaeda militants on an army post in the southern province of Abyan, a security official told AFP.

"Eight soldiers were killed in an attack by members of Al-Qaeda on a military post in Al-Rai neighbourhood, west of the town of Jaar in Abyan" province, the official said.

"The soldiers were breaking the (Muslim Ramadan (dawn-to-dusk) fast when four armed militants attacked them using RPG (rocket-propelled grenades) ... and machine guns," the official said.

Seven of the soldiers were killed on the spot while the eighth was wounded and later died of his injuries at a hospital in the town of Jaar, a haven for extremists located five kilometres (three miles) from Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, the official added.

Medics at Al-Razi hospital in Jaar confirmed they had received a wounded soldier who later died.

One civilian, a government employee, was also killed in the attack, the security official said, adding that reinforcements were deployed in the town to pursue the assailants.

Witnesses told AFP they had seen seven body parts of the soldiers strewn over a wide area as a result of the attack.

Last Tuesday, gunmen shot dead four policemen and wounded two others in an ambush in Zinjibar.

Earlier on Saturday, the defence ministry's website reported that gunmen had killed a soldier and wounded three others in an ambush in the southern province of Lahij.

"Armed outlaw elements... opened fire on members of a patrol killing the soldier Bilal Hael" and wounding three others late on Friday, quoted security official Lieutenant Colonel Salah al-Dawoodi as saying.

A committee was set up to investigate the incident, Dawoodi said.

Earlier this month, armed men ambushed the chief of the Lahij intelligence service's investigations department, who was killed in a hail of bullets.

Also on Friday, security agents arrested an alleged Al-Qaeda member near Al-Bayda, another southern province, reported.

The man had fled from the Abyan province town of Loder following deadly clashes between suspected Al-Qaeda militants and the army last week, the report said.

At least 33 people, including 19 militants, 11 soldiers, and three civilians were killed in the Loder battle, according to an AFP tally based on official and medical sources.

The interior ministry on Sunday called for tighter security at intelligence headquarters throughout the country and said it had put security units on the alert.

The ministry, in a statement posted on its website, stressed "the importance of increasing security vigilance and deploying patrols in the capital and the provinces, in addition to tightening security measures on vital facilities and buildings."

South Yemen, especially Abyan province, is feared to have become a base for Al-Qaeda militants to regroup under the network's local franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The region, where many residents complain of discrimination by the Sanaa government in the allocation of resources, is also the site of frequent protests and periodic unrest.

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