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Qaeda-linked fighters, Yemen troops clash

SANA, Yemen - Yemeni soldiers battled Al Qaeda-linked militants outside the southern city of Zinjibar, which remains partly under the control of militants who seized it more than half a year ago. Sixteen of the fighters and four soldiers were killed, a military official said yesterday.

The overnight fighting included intensive artillery shelling from the government side and took place overnight, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, in line with the military regulations.

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Al Qaeda-linked militants have overrun swaths of territory in the area, taking advantage of the security vacuum that has developed as a result of the political unrest that continues to roil the fragile and impoverished country on the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula.

A deal for longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power has failed to quiet the protests calling for his ouster that began last February.

Many of his opponents have objected to the deal because it grants him immunity from prosecution, and they would like to see him tried on charges of corruption and playing a role in the bloody crackdown on protesters.

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