Six Islamic Jihad men killed in Yemen

June 26, 2003

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SANAA, June 25: At least eight people were killed on Wednesday in fighting between Yemeni government forces and suspected militants believed to be behind an attack on an army medical team in southern Yemen.

Yemeni troops besieged the militants’ hideouts in the mountainous Sarar area in the southern Abyan province on Monday, where an estimated 80 members of the Islamic Jihad, which aims to topple the government, were said to be hiding.

Security sources and medics at Ibn al Razi hospital in the provincial capital, Zinjibar, said the hospital received the bodies of six suspected militants and two soldiers killed in the fighting. Five soldiers were also wounded, they said.

Security sources said about 30 suspected militants were captured, before the fighting died down as darkness fell. Yemeni troops continue to surround the area, where other suspected militants are still entrenched, they said.

The troops earlier pounded the mountains with missiles and artillery as helicopters flew overhead before special forces moved against the militants.

It was the latest offensive in a crackdown on militants in Yemen, where there have been several attacks on Western targets, including the 2000 bombing of the U.S. warship, Cole, and an attack on a French supertanker last year.

“The shelling has stopped now and troops are looking for the suspects,” a journalist travelling with Yemeni forces said. “Helicopters are still combing the area,” he added.

The strikes were launched early on Wednesday after surrender talks failed with around 80 “extremist elements” besieged in an area with a three kilometre radius.—Reuters