12 Somali militants caught by police in southern Yemen

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A total of 12 Somalis suspected of belonging to the al-Shabaab militant group were arrested by Yemeni security authorities in the southern province of Abyan on Friday, a police officer told Xinhua.

Police forces positioned at the main road between Aden and Abyan provinces detained 12 armed men of the al-Qaida-allied Somali group, while they were attempting to sneak into the port city of Aden to conduct terrorist attacks, the police officer said on condition of anonymity.

"The captured men were taken by military intelligence officers to nearby Aden province for initial investigations," the officer said.

The Somali group known as al-Shabaab has provided weapons, fighters and training with explosives over the last few months to the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch that was battling with the army forces in Abyan since May 2011, according to Yemeni military officials.

The country's interior ministry reported earlier this month that al-Shabaab had sent 300 armed men to fight alongside the Yemen-based al-Qaida wing known locally as Partisans of Sharia ( Islamic law) in Abyan province.

Al-Qaida militants who took advantage of the conflicts in the country have seized several towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces after severe fighting with government troops backed by U.S. drones.

In January 2009, al-Qaida affiliates in Saudi Arabia and Yemen officially merged and formed Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

The group, mainly entrenching itself in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.

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