Gunmen take over Yemen city, French aid workers missing

Gunmen have taken control of the south Yemen city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, after heavy fighting with security forces that left 16 dead, an official said on Sunday.


He said that the attackers are members of Al-Qaeda.

The fighters "were able to gain control of the city of Zinjibar ... and took over all government facilities," except for the headquarters of the 25th mechanised brigade, which is under siege, the security official said.

Five soldiers and a civilian were killed on Friday, according to other officials, while residents said they found the bodies of 10 soldiers, bringing the toll from the fighting there to at least 16.

One of the officials said that another two soldiers were killed Friday in clashes with suspected Al-Qaeda fighters in the town of Loder, also in Abyan province.

Yemen faces political turmoil inspired by the Arab Spring and has experienced several armed rebellions. Al-Qaeda has a much-publicised but relatively small presence in the country, which has led the US and the UK to give aid to President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Three French aid workers were reported missing in south-east Yemen on Saturday.

Security officials say they believe the three, two men and a woman who work for an NGO called Triangle Génération Humanitaire, have been kidnapped.

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