Last updated: 22 July, 2011

Two Yemeni soldiers killed in fighting with Al-Qaeda members

Two Yemeni soldiers have been killed and four others wounded in clashes with suspected Al-Qaeda militants near Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, a military source said Friday.

And tribal sources said armed tribesmen had killed one Al-Qaeda member and wounded another at the entrance of Mudiyah, about 80 kilometres (49 miles) east of Zinjibar.

A military source said “two soldiers were killed and four wounded in clashes centred on the entrance to Zinjibar Thursday night between the army and Al-Qaeda fighters,” a toll confirmed by medical sources.

Other military sources told AFP sporadic clashes had occurred from Thursday into Friday as the army attempted to enter Zinjibar, much of which has been held by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants since May.

The tribal sources said the Al-Qaeda members were shot when they refused to stop at a checkpoint set up by tribesmen opposed to to the group.

Many members of Abyan tribes have had close ties to Al-Qaeda in the past, but have turned against the militant group after gunmen belonging to the “Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law),” a group suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, seized Zinjibar in May.

Fighting in the town between the militants and Yemeni security forces has displaced thousands of residents.

A military source and medics said on Thursday that Ayad al-Shabwani, a leader of Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and 10 soldiers had been killed during fighting in south Yemen this week.

And Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi said the United States had provided logistical support to the 25th Mechanised Brigade, which was besieged by militants in Zinjibar from late May.