ADEN Jan 3 Yemeni troops killed five
fighters on Tuesday from an Islamist group that has controlled
the capital of a southern province since May, a local official
The official said the army shelled the fighters from a group
calling itself Ansar al-Sharia and exchanged gunfire with them
in Zinjibar, in Abyan province.
Yemen's central government says the group is linked to al
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has plotted abortive
attacks abroad from the country.
Opponents of Ali Abdullah Saleh - who has agreed to step
down as president after nearly a year of protests pushed the
country to the brink of civil war - accuse him of ceding
territory to Islamists to bolster his assertion that his rule
keeps al Qaeda in check.
Nonetheless, the fighting illustrates the chaos that
neighbouring oil giant Saudi Arabia and Washington fear may
envelop Yemen and embolden its al Qaeda wing.
Months of fighting have forced out much of the population of
the province and deepened a humanitarian crisis in an
impoverished country with multiple regional conflicts.
(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Joseph Logan)