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12 al Qaeda-linked militants killed in south Yemen

world Updated: Sep 16, 2011 07:58 IST

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The latest clashes between Yemeni government forces and al Qaeda-linked militants in southern Yemen have killed 14, including 12 militants, officials said.

Loud explosions and exchanges of fire were heard in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday night, in the neighborhood where the chief of the main tribe opposing Yemen's president lives.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. Three explosions were also reported near police stations and an intelligence office in the port city of Aden in southern Yemen.

A military official on Wednesday said that negotiations in the south with the fighters to end the bloodshed there were deadlocked.

Islamic militants linked with al Qaeda have taken advantage of the turmoil gripping Yemen over anti-government protests, and have seized control of a number of towns and the provincial capital of the southern province of Abyan.

The militants have controlled the towns for months, terrorising the locals. In recent weeks, the military has gone on the offensive, but fierce fighting has not shaken the militants hold on the area and has left thousands of civilians displaced.

The fighting and the internal turmoil are closely related. Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's leader of nearly 33 years, has held onto power in the face of massive protests demanding his ouster since February. He insists that if he leaves, al Qaeda will take over the country.

The West views al Qaeda's branch in Yemen as the most active and dangerous, and linked to several nearly successful attacks on US targets, including the plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009.