Yemeni security officials said Saturday a high-ranking police officer, a soldier, and four Islamist militants were killed in the south of the country in the last 24 hours.
The officials said the head of a criminal investigation unit in Hadrawamout province was gravely wounded late Friday when unidentified gunmen attacked him near his house with automatic weapons. The attackers managed to flee, but the police officer later died of his wounds.
In the southern city of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, a soldier and four Islamist militants died in overnight clashes. Government troops have been trying to regain control of swathes of territory in the province taken last year by Islamist groups.
Meanwhile, outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh headed to the United States Saturday to seek medical treatment. His press office said that Mr. Saleh's airplane landed in London for refueling and then continued on to New York.
Mr. Saleh, who is due to step down next month, was severely wounded in a bomb attack on his presidential compound last June and spent several months recuperating in Saudi Arabia.
The embattled leader departed the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, for neighboring Oman a week ago. In his farewell speech, he asked the Yemenis to forgive him for any “shortcomings” during his 33-year rule and vowed to return to Yemen as the head of his General People's Congress party.
But thousands of Yemenis want Mr. Saleh to be put on trial for a violent crackdown in which hundreds of people have been killed. They reject granting him full immunity from prosecution, which the country's parliament approved last week as part of a Gulf Cooperation Council-backed deal to encourage him to leave office.
Mr. Saleh signed the plan last November and agreed to transfer presidential powers to his deputy ahead of February elections that will pick his successor. Yemeni state media said the president declared Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Haid responsible for the country and promoted him to the military rank of field marshal.