Al-Qaeda gunmen have taken control of the south Yemen city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, after clashes with Yemeni security forces that left at least 18 dead, an official said on Sunday. According to AFP, two other security officials said that fighting raged in the city on Friday and Saturday.
Five troops and a civilian died on Friday, they conveyed. According to locals, they found the bodies of at least 10 troops.
One of the officials said that another two troops died Friday in clashes with suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen in the town of Loder, also in Abyan province.
An official in the area estimated the number of al-Qaeda members who stormed the city of more than 200. According to him, the leader of the Abyan governorate of left the area before the raid.
For his part, the former Yemeni Interior Minister Hussein Mohammed Arab blamed the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh of "supporting Al-Qaeda" by "handing over" a number of cities in Abyan governorate. Arab said that al Qaeda has not launched any attack on Zanzibar, and all that happened was handing over by security leaders in Zanzibar to armed groups, leaving scores of poor soldiers to their fate.