Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Warplane airstrike kills 30 Yemeni soldiers

Yemeni local officials have said that almost 30 soldiers have been killed in south of the country during a Yemeni warplane airstrike. The government has denied the reports. The assault on Saturday 1st October hit the 119th brigade troops near Zinjibar, in the Abyan province, and was followed by militant attacks.

It is yet to be confirmed whether the attack was an error. Yemeni TV, however, denied the bombing took place.

It is thought that the 119th brigade has joined a rebellion against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is now back in the country after three months in Saudi Arabia.

The militants suspected to be linked to the Al-Qa'ida have exploited the security vacuum in the country to launch a number of attacks on civilians and military personnel.

The army has been involved in an ongoing battle to reclaim territory. Last month, it recaptured Zinjibar. In country opposition, however, says the Yemeni government has exaggerated Al-Qa'ida's activities in order to gain international sympathies.

According to the BBC, the warplane hit an abandoned school, where the regiment was taking shelter. An unnamed military official also told AFP news agency that militants later attacked the base and "killed even more soldiers".

The ongoing turmoil in southern Yemen has ignited fears about the prospect of a civil war ever since military units and tribal groups joined anti-government protests in recent months.

More protests were reported in Sana'a on Sunday 2nd October, with people still calling for Saleh to resign. The Yemeni president, who sought treatment in Saudi Arabia after an attempt on his life, refuses to step-down but has recently called for peace in the country.

The latest attack in south Yemen follows the killing of US-born Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, seen as the key figure in the Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Awlaki is thought to have been killed by a suspected US drone in the east of the country.

Sources: AFP, BBC News, Reuters

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

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