Sanaa (AP) — Clashes between suspected al-Qaida militants and Yemen’s pro-government forces in the country’s south killed three men Saturday, a military official and tribal leaders said.
The fighting broke out Saturday evening when militants thought to be al-Qaida members attacked the United Arab Emirates-backed Shabwa Defense Forces near the town of al-Musnaiya in southern Shabwa province with machine guns, two tribal leaders and a military official said. The three spoke on condition of anonymity.
They said the gunbattle in the oil-rich province lasted for several hours, killing two Shabwa Defense Forces fighters and one militant before the militants finally withdrew.
Yemen’s ruinous civil war began in 2014 when the 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 UAE intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, also known by its acronym AQAP, is active in several regions of wartorn Yemen, including Shabwa and other far-flung provinces and is considered to be one of the more dangerous branches of the terror network.
A prominent member of al-Qaida, Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, was killed in February in a suspected U.S. drone attack.
Amid years of chaos and conflict, the militant group has cemented a strong foothold in areas of the country, particularly in the remote east and south of the Arab nation.
The conflict in Yemen has killed over 150,000 people, including over 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 cease-fire agreement was reached in April 2022. The truce expired in October 2022, however, back-channel negotiations between Saudi and Houthi officials have been ongoing for months.