Troops, insurgents battle in centre of southern Yemen city

June 3, 2012 18:22

ADEN - Yemeni troops battled insurgents in the central streets of the southern provincial capital Zinjibar on Sunday, killing six and losing two of their own men, as part of a US-supported drive to recapture territory held by the al-Qaida-linked fighters.

Officials and residents also said troops killed five Islamist fighters in clashes near the western edge of Jaar, another insurgent-controlled town in Abyan province about 30 km (20 miles) from Zinjibar.

The army launched the offensive last month aimed at retaking southern towns seized by Islamists during an uprising against Yemen's long-time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh that saw the military split into warring factions last year.

The United States, which helped engineer Saleh's replacement by his deputy in February, is backing the offensive and has stepped up its campaign of drone strike assassinations of alleged al Qaeda members it says plot attacks from Yemen.

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