3 Yemeni soldiers killed in clashes with al-Qaida militants

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ADEN, Yemen, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Heavy clashes broke out between Yemeni government forces and al-Qaida militants in the turbulent southern province of Abyan, killing 3 soldiers, a military official told Xinhua.

The clashes erupted after a unit of the anti-terror Yemeni troops launched an operation against a stronghold of al-Qaida in Mudiyah area of Abyan province, leaving 3 soldiers dead at the scene, the local military official said on condition of anonymity.

The al-Qaida militants clashed with the government forces who failed to storm the well-fortified stronghold surrounded by dozens of terrorists in Abyan province, the source said.

He added that preparations are underway to carry out a new operation backed by the Saudi-led coalition against the al-Qaida stronghold in next hours.

An official of Abyan's local authority confirmed that "the anti-terror operation was confronted by well-armed al-Qaida militants who rained the soldiers with a barrage of gunshots from different locations."

A medical official in Abyan said that "the public hospital received 3 bodies of new-recruited members from the government forces as a result of clashes with al-Qaida."

Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) network mostly operating in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country.

The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes against AQAP fighters in different provinces of the war-torn Arab country since U.S. President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group.

That included intensified overnight airstrikes and ground military raids against the al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous areas of al-Bayda and southeastern province of Shabwa.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in southeastern provinces. Enditem

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