At least 32 killed in new Yemen offensive on militants

By REUTERS
May 15, 2012 11:37

 
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ADEN, Yemen - At least 32 people, including 23 al-Qaida-linked militants were killed in Yemen, officials and residents said on Tuesday, as the government pressed ahead with a new US-backed offensive against insurgents in the south of the country.

Washington has stepped up its drone attacks in Yemen since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February, and the Pentagon said last week it had recently resumed sending military trainers to the Arab state.

A growing Islamist insurgency in Yemen is of serious concern to the United States and oil exporter Saudi Arabia, who both fear that political infighting could give al Qaeda's regional wing a foothold near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.

Residents and local officials said heavy fighting erupted overnight between the Yemeni army and militants in an area called al-Jabalain in the south of the country, as the army tried to advance on the militant-held city of Jaar.

The clashes continued until early on Tuesday, killing at least eight militants and one Yemeni soldier, they said, adding the army had captured two Somali Islamist fighters.

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