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Al-Qaida Driven from Yemeni Town

Yemeni military officials say troops have driven al-Qaida militants out of the southern town of Hawta, following five days of clashes in the region.

A regional security director, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Maqdashi, says the militants fled into the mountains Friday. He said they were being pursued by soldiers.

Yemeni officials say security forces and counter-terrorism teams moved into the region with tanks and armored vehicles in response to a militant attack on a natural gas pipeline this month.

Earlier this week, Yemeni officials said more than 20 suspected al-Qaida fighters had been detained during the offensive, which displaced thousands of civilians.

On Friday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the violence had forced an estimated 4,000 Yemenis to flee from Hawta and surrounding areas. The agency said initial reports indicate some of the displaced civilians are in urgent need of food, shelter and other humanitarian assistance.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.