News / Middle East

    Yemen Regains Parts of Zinjibar from Militants

    Yemen soldiers are seen in the southern city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, on September 10, 2011, which was freed after being overrun by Al-Qaeda suspects in May.
    Yemen soldiers are seen in the southern city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, on September 10, 2011, which was freed after being overrun by Al-Qaeda suspects in May.

    Yemen says it has recaptured part of the southern city of Zinjibar, including a military unit, from suspected al-Qaida militants who had controlled the area since May.

    Military officials said Saturday that they had driven militants out of parts of the city and managed to free the base of the 25th mechanized brigade.

    President Ali Abdullah Saleh said security forces had achieved a "great victory" against those who wanted to convert the capital of Abyan province into a "den of terrorism." The state-run SABA news agency says Mr. Saleh also thanked the United States for its assistance in the effort.

    For months, militants have apparently been trying to use Yemen's political turmoil to increase their strongholds in the country. In May, hundreds of militants swept into Zinjibar and took over banks and government buildings.

    President Saleh's government has been battling anti-government dissent as it fights militant unrest. On Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters renewed calls for the president's departure, while loyalists held rival demonstrations.

    Mr. Saleh remains in Saudi Arabia where he has been recovering from injuries sustained in a June attack on his presidential compound in Sana'a.

    Earlier this week, the ruling General People's Congress held a series of meeting to consider a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan that calls for Mr. Saleh to hand over power and allow a coalition to form a national unity government.

    The Yemen Post said Thursday that the ruling party had agreed to a modified version of the proposal that, if adopted, would give the president more time to resign.

    The six-nation GCC initially proposed its plan in April in an effort to end months of anti-government protests in Yemen.  Mr. Saleh agreed to the proposal three times, but each time backed out before the deal could be signed.

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