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Multiple suspected al-Qaeda militants dead after clashes with Yemeni forces

Several militants with alleged links to al-Qaeda have been killed in clashes with government troops in Yemen. The fighting has extended the struggle to ensure security in a city previously occupied by al-Qaeda.

A raid conducted by Saudi-backed Yemeni forces has killed at least 13 insurgents in an area formerly ruled by al-Qaeda, the army reported on Sunday.

Two government soldiers were also killed and nine were wounded in the clash, officials reported.

The fight in the southern city of Mukalla started late on Saturday when Yemeni troops targeted suspected al-Qaeda hideouts in the eastern part of the city.

"Special forces and the army gained complete control over the site backed up by helicopters from the Arab coalition, which dealt with groups of terrorists spread around the area who were fleeing," an army statement said.

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"A search confirmed that these fighters were about to carry out a surprise terrorist attack on some military command centers at dawn this morning."

Last month, troops loyal to Yemen's Saudi-supported President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi

recaptured Mukalla from al-Qaeda insurgents.

The militants had previously taken advantage of the civil war between Shiite Houthi rebels and the Hadi government to seize the city one year ago.

Yemen's al-Qaeda branch (known as AQAP) is regarded as one of the most active branches worldwide.

The US stepped up its ongoing drone war

against the group in recent weeks.

The conflict in Yemen has intensified since March 2015 when rebels advanced on the city of Aden, which prompted Saudi Arabia and Sunni allies to conduct airstrikes.

rs/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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