Yemeni troops capture militant-held positions on outskirts of Jaar city

Updated 30 May 2012
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Yemeni troops capture militant-held positions on outskirts of Jaar city

ADEN: Yemeni troops have captured rebel-held positions on the outskirts of the southern city of Jaar, a military official said yesterday, pushing ahead with a US-backed offensive to uproot militants from the country.
He said at least 10 militants have been killed in the fighting since Monday night and that the Yemeni army was within 2-3 km from Jaar.
“Seizing this area will help us gain control of Jaar city,” he told Reuters. “Our goal is to advance into the city.”
Al-Qaeda-linked militants seized large swaths of territory in southern Yemen last year as former President Ali Abdullah Saleh grappled with protests seeking his overthrow. Saleh quit in favor of his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Hadi Mansour last November.
The United States and its Gulf Arab allies have watched with mounting alarm as security deteriorates in Yemen, home to Al-Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula wing (AQAP), which is viewed by Washington as a serious threat.
The United States has stepped up air strikes using drones against targets in Yemen it says may be plotting attacks against it. It has also renewed military training to help Yemeni security forces grow strong enough to reassert control over the country.
The military official said troops advanced by at least one km in Jaar’s direction in the past 24 hours. “The troops are continuing to shell the northern and central parts of the city.”
Jaar residents said that food supplies were running short and many were unable to flee the city due to heavy shelling.
“The house next to ours was destroyed by shells and we’re worried the same will happen to us,” a Jaar resident said, without giving his name.
The governor of Abyan Jamal Al-Aqel said that the military has asserted control on several southern towns that militants tried to control in the past, including Lawdar and Mudiyah, adding that heavy fighting inside Zinjibar was continuing.
A military official said four soldiers were wounded yesterday when militants ambushed government troops outside the city.
Months of fighting and shelling in and around Zinjibar have turned the strategically important city into ghost town, residents said.
“Most of the city is empty, the buildings are destroyed and most of the basic services like electricity are cut off,” one resident told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens to stay away from Yemen, the official SPA news agency said yesterday.
Last month, the deputy consul at the Saudi consulate in the southern port city of Aden who was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants, apparently to exchange him for women prisoners and a ransom.
FROM: REUTERS


Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

Updated 16 min 14 sec ago
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Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

  • Cyclone Mekunu left a path of distruction, flooding towns and causing extensive damage
  • One of the dead is a 12-year-old girl who was hit in the head with a door that blew open

SALALAH, Oman: The death toll from a cyclone that battered southern Oman and the Yemeni island of Socotra has reached 11, while eight sailors are still missing, authorities said.
Cyclone Mekunu hit Oman’s Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces on Friday after intensifying from a category one to a category two cyclone, with winds of up to 170 kilometers (over 100 miles) per hour after it made landfall on Socotra on Thursday.
Oman’s civil defense service on Saturday reported two deaths, adding to an earlier toll of a man and a 12-year-old girl.
“The third is an Asian man who was missing but his body was found late Saturday in Dhofar” province, spokesman Lt. Col. Saeed Al-Badaei said at a press conference late Saturday.
“The fourth is a young Omani man who was swept away in his car by flooding,” he added.
Socotra’s governor Ramzy Mahrous said on Sunday that the death toll on the island remained seven — five Yemenis and two Indian sailors. A further eight Indian sailors remain missing.
The southeastern part of the island remains cut off, but authorities are working to access the area and assess damage, Mahrous told AFP.
Around 1,000 families on Socotra, with a population of around 60,000, were evacuated after their homes were damaged.
The main road linking the airport to Hadibo, the island’s main city, has been reopened, Mahrous said.
Oman’s meteorology directorate announced late Saturday that “the direct effects of the tropical system are over.”
Cyclone Mekunu has now been downgraded to the category of “deep depression.”
Late Saturday it struck Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most arid deserts, with ongoing heavy rains and strong winds.
The Saudi meteorological authority said on Twitter Sunday that winds blew at 60 kilometers (over 35 miles) per hour, kicking up blinding dust storms.
Rains are expected to continue for two more days, drenching the area with more than 100 millimeters (four inches) of rain, almost six times its annual average, Amman-based weather experts WASM said on Twitter.