Eight die in Yemen attack on militants

Wed, Jun 25, 2003, 01:00

At least eight people were killed today in fighting between Yemeni government forces and suspected Islamists believed to be behind an attack on an army medical team in southern Yemen, Yemeni sources said.

Yemeni troops besieged Islamists' hideouts in the mountainous Sarar area in the southern Abyan province on Monday, where an estimated 80 members of militant Yemeni group Islamic Jihad, which aims to topple the government, were said to be hiding.

Security sources and medics at Ibn al-Razi hospital in the provincial capital Zinjibar said the hospital received the bodies of six suspected militants and two soldiers killed in the fighting. Five soldiers were also wounded, they said.

Security sources said about 30 suspected militants were captured, before the fighting died down as darkness fell. Yemeni troops continue to surround the area, where other suspected militants are still entrenched, they said.

Yemeni troops earlier pounded the mountains with missiles and artillery as helicopters flew overhead before special forces moved against the militants.

It was the latest offensive in a crackdown on militants in Yemen, where there have been several attacks on Western targets, including the 2000 bombing of the US warship Cole and 2002's attack on the French supertanker Limburg.