185 Yemeni troops dead in weekend al Qaeda attack

Soldiers` bodies were founded mutilated and some were headless.

Sanaa: The number of government troops killed
by al Qaeda militants in a weekend attack in southern Yemen
has risen to 185, officials said.

Soldiers` bodies were founded mutilated and some were

Military officials say the death toll rose after more
bodies were found in the desert outside the town of Zinjibar,
capital of the southern province of Abyan. The Sunday attack
left at least 32 militants dead. Officials said that there
were scores of wounded from both sides.

Medical officials in the area confirmed the latest death
toll and said some of the bodies of soldiers recovered had
been mutilated. They said that bodies packed the military
hospital morgue to which they were taken.

The death toll is believed to be the highest on record
from battles fought by the army against al Qaeda militants,
who have been emboldened by the political turmoil roiling the
impoverished Arab nation for more than a year and have seized
control of Zinjibar and other areas in the south.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they
were not authorised to speak to the press.

The militants` attack appeared to be al Qaeda`s response
to a pledge by Yemen`s newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo
Mansour Hadi to fight the Yemeni branch of the terror network,
believed to be the world`s most active.

The scale of Sunday`s attacks pointed to the combat
readiness of the militants in Yemen, which the United States
considers a key battleground in the war on al Qaeda.