Pro-government militiamen clash with al-Qaida in Yemen's south, 14 killed

Pro-government militiamen clash with al-Qaida in Yemen
# 31 January 2013 22:14 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Clashes broke out between scores of pro-government militiamen and al-Qaida militants in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Thursday, leaving at least 14 people killed, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The pro-government militiamen backed by a unit of the armed forces clashed with al-Qaida militants in the mountainous region of Maraksha in Abyan province, leaving at least 14 people killed on both sides, the Defense Ministry said in a brief text message obtained by Xinhua.

"About eight terrorists and six members of the pro-government militiamen were killed in the ongoing fighting near the al-Qaida- held region of Maraksha," the ministry said.

A pro-government tribal chief told Xinhua anonymously that "in cooperation with the armed troops, we attacked the al-Qaida militants to drive them out of our region."

"The al-Qaida militants may carry out suicide bombings in retaliation for the ground assault, but we are going to continue with more attacks," the tribal chief said.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, known locally as Ansar al- Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), took advantage of a political upheaval in 2011 in Yemen to take over several towns of the southern restive regions.

The militants were targeted by the Yemeni security authorities after a U.S.-backed offensive launched in the southern Abyan province months ago routed the militants out of their strongholds that they had controlled for nearly a year.

The Yemeni government along with the United states and oil-rich Saudi Arabia have beefed up anti-terror operation since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February 2012.