Last Updated: Sun Mar 18, 2012 15:45 pm (KSA) 12:45 pm (GMT)

At least 16 militants killed in Zinjibar as war against al-Qaeda continues in Yemen

Men attend the funeral prayers for victims killed when a car bomb exploded in southern Yemen on February 27, 2012. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for that attack.  (Reuters)
Men attend the funeral prayers for victims killed when a car bomb exploded in southern Yemen on February 27, 2012. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for that attack. (Reuters)

Missiles fired from the sea slammed into al-Qaeda positions in the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar on Sunday killing at least 16 suspected militants, a local official said.

He said the heavy shelling began overnight targeting the northeastern suburbs of Zinjibar, which jihadists have controlled since May following fierce fighting with government troops.

“Many bases of Qaeda were destroyed,” and 16 jihadists were killed, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The attacks were launched from the sea, he added.

Witnesses in the nearby town of Jaar said the bodies of 16 gunmen were buried in a makeshift graveyard in an ammunition factory. The corpses were torn to pieces.

Zinjibar is the capital of Abyan province, a stronghold of the jihadists’ local affiliate Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, whose militants fight under the banner of Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law).

Meanwhile, a warplane bombed Islamist militants in their southern Yemeni stronghold city of Jaar on Sunday causing the population to flee their homes, residents said, but there were no immediate reports of people killed or injured.

Islamist militants captured Jaar in the Abyan in March last year after the outbreak of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule and have turned it into their main base in southern Yemen.

The raid comes after a spate of attacks by Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), the deadliest of which killed at least 110 conscripts last week, in a reminder of the challenges faced by newly elected President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Earlier on Sunday, two men on a motorcycle shot and killed an American teacher in the Yemeni city of Taiz, south of the capital Sanaa.

Qaeda militants have exploited the weakening central government in Sana’a to strengthen their presence in the country, especially across the restive south and southeast.

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