November 7, 2011 / 8:05 AM / 7 years ago

Six militants killed in south Yemen clashes-official

ADEN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Six militants were killed in clashes with Yemeni government forces in the volatile southern province of Abyan, a local official said on Monday, raising to 11 the number of Islamists killed in the area in two days.

Four people, including a soldier, were wounded in the fighting in provincial capital Zinjibar on Sunday night.

On Saturday, a local official said the army killed five suspected al Qaeda militants in Zinjibar, one of whom was Iraqi and another Saudi.

Abyan has been in a state of anarchy since militants, suspected of ties to al Qaeda, began seizing cities in the coastal region several months ago. The government said it had “liberated” Zinjibar from Islamist fighters in September.

Nine months of anti-government protests have paralysed impoverished Yemen, pushing it to the brink of civil war, but failing to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Many say the standoff between the protesters and government forces has allowed militants to extend their control in Abyan.

In a speech on Saturday to mark the eve of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha, Saleh said he would leave office, after 33 years in charge, in line with a Gulf-brokered power transfer plan and lashed out at his “deluded, malicious” opponents. (Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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