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Yemen

At least 42 dead in south Yemen fighting

Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

At least 42 people have died in violence near Yemen's southern city of Zinjibar, most of which is reportedly now controlled by armed groups which the government accuses of bineg members of Al-Qaeda.

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Eleven people including top officers were killed in fierce clashes in Dofas, a village 15 kilometres south of the Abyan provincial capital, the military said Saturday.

"Al-Qaeda elements stationed in Dofas attacked army units there using machine-guns on Friday, killing two officers and four soldiers, and wounding nine others," a military official in the village told the AFP news agency.

A local official in Dofas said five Al-Qaeda fighters were also killed and four wounded in the attack.

Also on Friday, an air raid and clashes left 29 tribesmen killed and dozens wounded in eastern Zinjibar, tribal sources said, adding that several others went missing.

"Around 200 tribesmen came from the [coastal] village of Shaqra heading towards Zinjibar when they clashed with Al-Qaeda elements" on the city's outskirts, security official Abdullah Naser al-Jadani told AFP.

Tribal sources said the tribesmen were herded into a government building seized by the network, prompting the army to launch an air raid.

Jadani said three tribesmen were "mistakenly" killed in the air strike while another nine were shot dead by Al-Qaeda fighters.

Later on Saturday, tribal sources said 17 other bodies were retrieved from the rubble of the building targeted by three air raids, accusing the army of having carried out a "massacre" which cost the lives of 29 tribesmen.

Jadani insisted that the raids targeted "Al-Qaeda fighters and not civilians."

Members of the "Partisans of Sharia" (Islamic law), which is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, seized control of much of Zinjibar in May.

Thousands of residents have since been displaced by fighting.

Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi said last week that the United States had provided logistical support to Yemen's 25th Mechanised Brigade, which had been besieged in Zinjibar.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ally of the US in the fight against Al-Qaeda, has faced protests demanding that he quit for most of the year so far.

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