Air strike kills 5 Islamists in southern Yemen town

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ADEN: A Yemeni jet bombed the southern coastal town of Shaqra shortly after Islamist militants took control of the area, killing at least five of them, a local government official said.

In the raids staged on Thursday, the jet also attacked two sites where militants had gathered in the town of Zinjibar, the official told Reuters. He was unable to give details of casualties there.

Shaqra fell to the militants on Wednesday, becoming the third Yemeni town they have seized following Jaar in Abyan province in March and Zinjibar, the provincial capital, in May.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government has lost control of some areas in the south after months of political turmoil and mass protests demanding an end to his three-decade-old-rule.

Islamist militants, some possibly from al Qaeda, may be exploiting a security vacuum as Saleh and his allies fight to stay in power.

In a separate incident, 10 people – mostly women and children – were injured in an explosion at a clothes market in Al-Qatn in the southern Hadramout province on Thursday, which targeted an army officer and his family, a security official told Reuters.

Eyewitnesses said they saw a man throwing a hand grenade who then fled in a car. The officer and his family survived unhurt, the official said.

Saleh, in power since 1978, said on Tuesday he would soon return home from Saudi Arabia where he is recovering from a June assassination attempt in which he was wounded and burned.

Popular protests against Saleh erupted during uprisings that ousted the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt this year, but the Yemeni leader has clung to power, defying international pressure and three times backing out of a Gulf-brokered transition deal.

Protesters and opposition parties suspect Saleh has deliberately loosened security to let militants act more freely, in an attempt to illustrate the dangers of a Yemen without him.


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