31 killed in South Yemen fighting

SANAA, YEMEN (AP) — Yemeni raids on al-Qaida positions have left at least 28 fighters and three soldiers dead, as the government consolidates its hold on recaptured militant strongholds, military officials said Wednesday.

The clashes in Abyan and Shabwa provinces are part of a weeks-long offensive against al-Qaida, aiming at uprooting the militant group from large swaths of land the group seized during last years’ uprising and the political and security vacuum that followed.

Military officials said at least six air raids targeted moving vehicles and al-Qaida positions in Mahfad, the last stronghold of al-Qaida in Abyan province. The Yemeni military regained control of several al-Qaida strongholds in Abyan earlier this month.

In another recently recaptured town, Zinjibar, demining teams spotted an Egyptian militant, but he killed himself with a hand grenade before being arrested. Officials said they also found the bodies of seven militants, including three Egyptians, killed in earlier fighting.

To the north of Zinjibar, clashes were still taking place outside Jaar, a town also recaptured by the army earlier last week.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that one of its workers was killed Wednesday in Abyan province. In a statement, the ICRC said circumstances of the death of the worker, a Yemeni, were not clear.

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