Clashes between Al-Qaeda militants and the army in Yemen’s restive south killed 34 people, mostly jihadists, as soldiers advanced on the city of Zinjibar, the defence ministry said on Friday.
“Eighteen Al-Qaeda militants were killed and dozens wounded while the rest fled” the clashes on the outskirts of the extremists’ stronghold, which Yemeni troops have been trying to retake since May, the ministry’s website 26sep.net said.
“Two soldiers were also killed while seven others were wounded” in the clashes that erupted late on Thursday, it said.
AFP could not independently verify the toll.
The ministry said the army had “made a major advance towards Zinjibar, driving out the terrorist Al-Qaeda elements from several positions they held.”
Separately, troops and tribal volunteers killed 14 militants east of the town of Loder, which the militants have been attempting to capture for the past two weeks, state news agency SABA quoted a local official as saying.
Since May 2011, the army has been battling the extremist group’s Yemeni branch, known as the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), which took over Zinjibar, in an attempt to regain control of the capital of Abyan province.
The website 26sep.net also reported that Islamist insurgents were planning to target gas terminals and companies in Belhaf in Shabwa province, with “six bomb-laden cars driven by six suicide bombers.”
“The interior ministry has given orders to Shabwa security services to deal seriously with this information and to take the security measures needed to foil this terrorist plot by Al-Qaeda,” it said.
It also urged a tightening of security measures around gas terminals and companies.
Earlier this month, the Islamists sabotaged a 320-kilometre (200-mile) gas pipeline linking Marib province to Belhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden.
Yemen LNG, which said at the time that production was stopped, said in a statement that the pipeline would restart operations on Friday.
“Six LNG cargoes had to be cancelled further to the sabotage (but) all May cargoes will be loaded on schedule,” said the statement on the company’s website.
“We will increase LNG production to redeliver as much of the cancelled cargoes as possible before year end,” Francois Rafin, general manager of the company, said in the statement.
“We are confident in the prompt reinforcement of the surveillance and protection of the pipeline,” said Rafin.
Meanwhile in Sanaa, the interior ministry said it beefed up security around the Saudi embassy and the ambassador’s residence, after the kingdom announced on Tuesday that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was holding a kidnapped Saudi diplomat.
An AQAP member told the Saudi ambassador in a telephone call that the group was “responsible for the kidnapping of the deputy consul in Aden, saying their demands include handing over several prisoners to members of the network in Yemen,” Saudi news agency SPA said.
Al-Qaeda has exploited a decline in Yemeni central government control that accompanied Arab Spring-inspired protests since last year that finally forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.
[Photo of Yemeni soldier via AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli]
Confederate battle flag banned — Marine Corps declares it a ‘threat to our core values’
The United States Marine Corps banned the public display of the Confederate battle flag on Friday.
"Depictions of the Confederate battle flag are unauthorized in public and work spaces aboard an installation," the Marine Corps wrote in guidance to the troops.
The ban applies to bumper stickers, clothing and flags among other items.
"The Confederate battle flag has all too often been co-opted by violent extremist and racist groups whose divisive beliefs have no place in our Corps," the Marines explained.
"Our history as a nation, and events like the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, highlight the divisiveness the use of the Confederate battle flag has had on our society," the continued. "The presents a threat to our core values, unit cohesion, security, and good order and discipline."
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Trump is ‘a soulless man with a broken mind’: George Conway calls out his wife’s boss in scathing op-ed
George Conway, the prominent Republican attorney married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, blasted his wife's boss in a new Washington Post op-ed published online on Friday evening.
"Until three brief months ago, President Trump never faced a serious crisis, at least one not of his own making. But now he has faced two, and is failing two, in short order: the covid-19 pandemic, with its concomitant economic devastation; and now social unrest, and rioting, stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody," Conway wrote. "Lacking in humanity, Trump has had no idea how to handle either one."