Yemen officials: Two commanders killed in clash with militants

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Clashes at a militia facility in southern Yemen following the arrest of a group of suspected al-Qaeda militants has killed at least a dozen people, including two force commanders, officials said.

The officials said the fighting took place late Friday at the headquarters of the so-called Security Belt force in Dhale province. The force is active in Yemen’s southern provinces.

The militia reported that Col. Waleed al-Dhami, deputy commander of the Security Belt, and Col. Mohamed al-Shoubagi, commander of the government’s counterterrorism unit in Dhale, were killed. It did not offer further details.

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The security officials said the nearly hour-long firefight erupted when troops asked the militants to hand over their weapons.

The militants refused and opened fire at the troops, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Eight militants and four security forces were killed in the fighting, including the two commanders, they said. There were a number of wounded troops who were taken to a hospital, the officials added.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates are active in several regions of war-torn Yemen and have taken advantage of the years long civil war to make inroads.

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