Five Islamist militants killed in south Yemen

ADEN Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:29pm BST

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ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's army killed at least five al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan province on Wednesday as it continues a U.S.-backed offensive to suppress Islamist militancy in the south, a military official said.

The Ministry of Defence said in a text message that some of the dead militants had been senior military leaders of Ansar al-Sharia, which has close links to the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Earlier in the day, a Yemeni aid worker for the International Committee of the Red Cross was killed by an air strike in the province while carrying out humanitarian work, the agency said.

A local official told Reuters on Wednesday that the ICRC worker had been killed in a strike by the Yemeni air force.

Yemen is several weeks into a U.S.-backed offensive against militants who seized territory in the south last year during an uprising that forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office in February in a power transfer brokered by Saudi Arabia and blessed by Washington, has sworn to stamp out AQAP, which has plotted attacks abroad.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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