Yemen army, tribes in offensive on militants in South

By REUTERS
July 17, 2011 11:54

 
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ADEN - Yemeni forces backed by armed tribesman launched an offensive to try to retake the southern provincial capital of Zinjibar on Sunday, after months of fierce fighting with Islamist militants who seized two cities and an army base in the area.

Dozens have been killed and some 54,000 civilians have fled the flashpoint southern province of Abyan, which has descended into daily bloodshed as the army faces a rising challenge from militants the government says have ties to al-Qaida.

After weeks of pleas for support from a besieged military brigade near Abyan's capital Zinjibar, Yemen sent reinforcements aiming to flush militants out of the seaside city. Zinjibar sits down the coastline from the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, where some 3 million barrels of oil pass daily.

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