Sanaa: An al Qaeda attack on a Yemeni army
post in the south set off clashes that left 64 people dead till Tuesday and prompted local civilians to take up arms alongside the military to beat back the militants, said army officials
The dawn attack is the latest in a series of bloody battles in recent months that mark an escalation in al-Qaeda`s
efforts to expand its control around a swath of land it seized
The group took advantage of the country`s political
turmoil to overrun cities and towns in southern Yemen.
The militant movement appears to be on the offencive,
assaulting and sometimes overrunning army positions, although
it also suffers reverses.
The officials said this latest assault fell on an outpost
in the town of Lawder in Abyan province, some 155 miles
southeast of the capital of Sanaa.
Residents and military officials said 40 militants were
killed in the clashes. Additionally, 18 soldiers, including a
colonel, were killed battling the militants, officials said.
Six civilians allied with the army were also reported killed.
Yemen`s military in the south, poorly equipped and low on
morale after a series of defeats, has not been able to fight
the group and its supporters alone. In cities like Lawder,
residents have become fed up with the government`s inability
to protect them and, in a country where tribes posses weapons,
have taken up arms to protect themselves.
The military said it used artillery to pound al-Qaeda
from a distance, but local civilians appear to have done much
of the close-in fighting.