SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Clashes between suspected al-Qaeda militants and pro-government Yemeni forces in the south of the country killed three men on Saturday, a military official and tribal leaders said.
The fighting erupted on Saturday evening when militants suspected of being al-Qaeda members attacked the UAE-backed Shabwa Defense Forces near the province’s southern town of al-Musnaiya of Shabwa, with machine guns, said two tribal chiefs and a military official. The three spoke on condition of anonymity.
They said the gunfight in the oil-rich province lasted for several hours, killing two Shabwa Defense Force fighters and a militant before the militants finally withdrew.
Yemen’s ruinous civil war began in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen and forced the government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition, including the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known by its acronym AQAP, is active in several areas of war-torn Yemen, including Shabwa and other remote provinces and is considered one of the network’s most dangerous branches. terrorist.
A prominent al-Qaeda member, Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, was killed in February in an alleged attack by a US drone.
Amid years of chaos and conflict, the militant group has established a firm foothold in parts of the country, especially in the remote eastern and southern parts of the Arab nation.
The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 150,000 people, including more than 14,500 civilians, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
There has been a lull in the fighting since a six-month ceasefire agreement was reached in April 2022. The truce expired in October 2022, however, behind-the-scenes negotiations between Saudi and Houthi officials have been going on for months.