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Five killed in clash in south Yemen

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(Reuters) - Four militants and one soldier were killed in a clash in southern Yemen Sunday.

  • The September 26 government website said the clash took place in the town of Zinjibar in Abyan province, but it gave no more details.
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  • Residents of the main southern city of Aden also reported clashes in districts of Dar Saad when militants attacked an army patrol and al-Hiswa when security forces hit two civilians while pursuing suspected militants. No deaths were reported.
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  • The Yemeni government has said militants are taking advantage of a security vacuum with the president convalescing in Saudi Arabia by stepping up operations in the southern flashpoint province of Abyan.
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  • Opposition parties say the government has reduced security in Abyan to allow militants more sway as a means of backing up their argument to their Western and Gulf backers that al Qaeda could gain a bigger foothold if President Ali Abdullah Saleh is pushed out.
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  • Human Rights Watch has accused the military of killing dozens of civilians in unlawful attacks while fighting such militants.
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  • In recent months, militants have seized two cities in Abyan, including its capital, Zinjibar. Some 54,000 Yemenis have fled Abyan since then, a government official said this month.
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  • Saleh appeared in a pre-recorded video aired on state television Thursday. He was speaking to Yemenis for the first since he left the country in June for Riyadh for treatment after he was hit in a bomb attack in a mosque.
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  • In the tape, Saleh defied six months of Yemeni protests demanding the end of his 33-year rule by saying he would "confront a challenge with a challenge."
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  • Ennaharonline/ Reuters

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