Yemeni Forces Kill 9 Militants

Posted November 13th, 2011 at 8:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemeni officials said Sunday government troops and allied tribesmen killed at least nine suspected al-Qaida-linked militants in overnight clashes in southern Abyan province.

The officials said the clashes took place near the provincial capital, Zinjibar. They said five of the militants, including a Saudi national, were killed in shelling on the city's northern edge, while the rest, including two of “African” origin, died in clashes in another part of Zinjibar.

The killings came a day after Yemeni forces said they killed six militants in the same region.

Government troops are fighting militants from the Ansar al-Sharia group in Abyan and in the country's east. The group is believed to be linked to al-Qaida.

The latest turmoil coincides with a visit by U.N. envoy Jamal bin Omar in Yemen to try to convince President Ali Abdullah Saleh to accept an initiative that calls for him to step down.

The Yemeni leader has repeatedly indicated he would accept the terms of the agreement, which was brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council , but each time has backed away without signing the plan.

For months, opposition activists have held demonstrations calling on Mr. Saleh to resign. The president's supporters frequently have held rival rallies coinciding with the opposition protests.

Mr. Saleh could face increased pressure from the European Union next week to accept the GCC initiative. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the EU is set to discuss a plan that would freeze Mr. Saleh's assets if he does not agree to end his 33-year rule.