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Aden (AFP) Feb 2, 2013
Yemen's armed forces killed 12 suspected Al-Qaeda militants in an assault on their mountain hideout in the country's restive south, an official in the region said on Saturday.
The military used artillery and aircraft to target the hideout near Shaqra, 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the Abyan capital of Zinjibar, in the operation late on Friday, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Among those killed was Belidi Tawfiq, the brother of one of Al-Qaeda's leaders in Abyan province, the official added.
Luhishi Hussein, a leader of a paramilitary unit that supports the military against the jihadist network in southern Yemen, said the operation resulted in "more than 10 deaths in the ranks of Al-Qaeda".
The militants had been holed up in the area after being driven out of cities and towns in the region following a military offensive launched in June last year.
Al-Qaeda took advantage of the weakness of Yemen's central government during an uprising in 2011 against now-ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory across the south.
Yemen says seized ship carried rockets from Iran
"The boat was heading towards the (Red Sea) port of Al-Mukha" and the arms "were destined for the Huthi rebels in Saada," the northern stronghold of the Shiite fighters, the Yemeni security official told AFP.
Yemeni coast guard in coordination with the US navy last month intercepted the ship in the Arabian Sea, authorities have said.
The vessel "came from Iran and was carrying arms and explosives among them surface-to-air missiles SAM-2 and SAM-3," state news agency Saba reported on Sunday, adding that the crew of eight Yemeni nationals were being questioned.
The ship was stopped on January 23 in Yemeni territorial waters and flew several fake flags, authorities have said.
An offshoot of Shiite Islam, Zaidis are a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen but form the majority in the mountainous north.
From 2004 the Huthis fought six wars with central government forces before signing a truce in February 2010. The rebellion claimed thousands of lives.
The government accuses the rebels of being backed by Shiite-dominated Iran, charges which the Zaidis deny.
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