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Saturday, December 20, 2014  

34 die as Yemen battles Al Qaeda
ADEN At least 22 Al Qaeda-linked militants and 12 Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes and air strikes overnight during a new US-backed offensive against insurgents in the south of the country, officials said on Saturday.  

Fighting erupted late on Friday and carried on into Saturday on the outskirts of the southern city of Jaar, held by Islamist militants, who have stepped up their campaign during months of political turmoil.  

Government troops, backed by US drone strikes, have been trying to push the insurgents out of strongholds in the south of the country, which lies near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.   

“There is heavy fighting, and the armed elements are doing everything possible to stop the advance of (government) troops,” a government official said, on condition of anonymity.  

Government forces were about 1km from Jaar, he added.

Twelve Yemeni soldiers and 17 militants were killed in the fighting and an air strike killed three militants on the outskirts of the city, the official said.  

Another air strike destroyed a vehicle used by militants, killing two people inside in the southern province of Bayda, provincial governor Mohammed Al Ameri was quoted as saying on a defence ministry website.  

In Sanaa, dozens of people protested to demand the arrest of seven men who allegedly gang raped a 13-year-old girl.

The protesters marched from the justice ministry towards the attorney general’s headquarters in Sanaa.

The girl was raped on “May 9 while she was heading to the bakery. She was  kidnapped and taken into a car whose owner has been identified,” said Ahmed Al Qirshi, head of Seyaj, an organisation for the protection of children.

Agencies
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