Thursday, 16 June 2011

More armed attacks in southern Yemen

Groups of gunmen have attacked government buildings in the southern town of Houta, inciting violent clashes that have killed one policeman. The latest attacks follows similar raids, last month, which lead to the capture of two southern cities, Zinjibar and Jaar.

Yemeni officials say the Al-Qai'da is taking advantage of the security vacuum in the country due to the on-going political turmoil. Southern Yemen is a hotbed for Islamic militants, and a branch of Yemeni terrorist network, Al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.

According to several witnesses, the militants, took over the central bank and a police station, along with other key buildings in the city of Houta, the capital of Lahij province.

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is currently undergoing treatment in Saudi Arabia for injuries sustained in a rocket attack on his compound in Sana'a earlier this month. It is yet unclear whether or not Saleh will return to Yemen – a country plagued by massive anti-regime protests since February. It is estimated that more than 200 people have been killed during the fighting.

Two weeks ago, the rebels took over parts of the capital of Abyan, the province to the southeast of Lahij. In the city of Zinjibar, security forces continue to battle militants, forcing hundreds of civilians to flee to the port city of Aden.

Sources: BBC News, Boston, Seattle Post Intelligencer

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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