Al-Qaida launches an attack on Yemeni rebels, killing 27 people
ADEN: Twenty-one separatist jihadists and six members of al-Yemen Qaida's branch were murdered Tuesday in a jihadist strike that shattered months of relative quiet in the war-torn country, according to government and security officials.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) targeted positions held by the UAE-trained Security Belt force in Abyan province in Yemen's south.
The attack occurred only days after the terrorist organisation published a video of a UN worker taken in the same area more than six months ago.
Approximately three hours of battle "killed 21 (Security Belt) personnel, including an officer, and six Al-Qaeda militants," a government official said on condition of anonymity. The death toll was confirmed by two security sources.
Yemen has been engulfed in violence since Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the embattled government the following year.
In the midst of the instability, AQAP and militants loyal to the Islamic State organisation have prospered.
The Security Belt, a significant separatist group in southern Yemen, has been crucial in the struggle against the jihadists, pushing them to flee from towns into rural regions.
The violence on Tuesday comes as the Huthis and troops backing the deposed government maintain a weak ceasefire in the years-long civil conflict.
The organisations fighting the Huthis, who are from the north, are divided, and include southern separatists who favour the re-establishment of South Yemen.
Until 1990, Yemen was separated into two parts: North Yemen and South Yemen.
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