At least five Yemeni fighters from a secessionist group were killed in clashes with suspected al-Qaida militants in the country’s south, security officials said.
The deadly fighting broke out Wednesday night between forces loyal to Yemen’s secessionist Southern Transitional Council and al-Qaida militants in the southern Abyan province, local security authorities said in a brief statement.
Abyan’s security department said that the secessionist forces, led by the Eastern Arrows Forces, reclaimed several areas that had been under the militants’ control and that three of its fighters were injured in the clashes. No further details were given.
It remains unclear how many al-Qaida fighters died in the battle. The group did not comment on the incident.
The Southern Transitional Council is backed by the United Arab Emirates and controls most of Yemen’s south. It is at odds with the internationally recognized government and has repeatedly called for the south Arabian country to be split into two states, as it was between 1967 and 1990.
Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen, or AQAP, is active in Abyan province and regularly carries out ambushes against Yemeni forces. AQAP is seen as one of the more dangerous branches of the terror network.
On Sunday, at least four fighters from the Shabwa Defense Forces, also loyal to the Southern Transitional Council, were killed when an explosive device detonated near an ambulance in Shabwa province, the fighting group said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. It blamed AQAP for the attack.
Yemen’s war began in 2014 when the Houthis swept down from their northern stronghold and seized the capital, Sanaa, along with much of the country’s north. In response, the Saudi-led coalition — which includes the UAE — intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power.
Al-Qaida has since exploited Yemen’s ruinous conflict to cement its presence in the impoverished nation.