Five Al-Qaeda suspects have been killed in artillery shelling by Yemen’s army in the country’s restive southern city of Zinjibar, officials said on Saturday.
“The army’s 25th Mechanised Brigade fired artillery shells late Friday at an area in Zinjibar’s east killing five Al-Qaeda militants,” an army official told AFP.
A local official in the nearby town of Jaar, an Al-Qaeda stronghold, confirmed the bodies of “five Al-Qaeda militants” were brought to the town from Zinjibar.
Tribesmen and Yemen’s army have been battling militants from the “Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law)” who are believed to be close to Al-Qaeda in the country’s southern and eastern regions.
Yemen has been gripped by violence as the government in Sanaa has become weakened by anti-regime protests that have rocked the country since January.
The international community has expressed fears the power vacuum in the impoverished country could play into the hands of Al-Qaeda.
Hundreds have died in battles between security forces and protesters, and security forces and Al-Qaeda fighters, amid growing fears the extremists will exploit the fragile political situation to seize Yemen’s restive regions.