12 suspected Qaeda militants killed in south Yemen

ADEN, July 26, 2011 (AFP) - Twelve suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed in overnight bombings and clashes near Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province in south Yemen, a military officer and a local official said on Tuesday.

"The Yemeni air force carried out a number of strikes on Al-Khamila south of Zinjibar where Al-Qaeda members were hiding ... killing seven and wounding others," the military officer said, adding that various pieces of equipment belonging to the jihadists were also destroyed.

Witnesses said that a number of residents were wounded in the strikes, although most had fled before the air raids began. Some houses were also damaged, they said.

A medic at Al-Razi hospital in Jaar, just north of Zinjibar, said the hospital had received six wounded civilians from Al-Khamila, including two children, in addition to four wounded militants

An official in Zinjibar meanwhile said that five Al-Qaeda gunmen were killed in the east of the town, including a leader from Maarib province known as Saeed Qarnoush, during an attack by militants on forces of the 25th Mechanised Brigade.

Militants belonging to the "Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law)", which is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, took over much of Zinjibar in May. Thousands of residents have since been displaced by fighting in the town.

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