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Al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen clashes, officials say

From Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
updated 7:28 AM EDT, Fri May 25, 2012
A Yemeni soldier sits next to the grave of a comrade who was killed in a suicide bombing earlier in the week.
A Yemeni soldier sits next to the grave of a comrade who was killed in a suicide bombing earlier in the week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dozens of al Qaeda militants died in clashes with Yemeni forces, security officials say
  • At least 15 soldiers also lost their lives in the violence in southern Yemen, officials say
  • The violence comes only days after a massive suicide bombing killed more than 100 soldiers

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Thirty-eight al Qaeda militants were killed in clashes with Yemen's military, local security officials said Friday.

At least 15 troops also died in the violence Thursday morning in the southern provinces of Abyan and Lahjj, the officials said.

Dozens were also wounded in a fierce battle involving several army brigades and the air force, state-run news agency SABA said. Militant leaders and foreign elements were among those killed, the news agency said.

The Yemeni government this week blamed an affiliate of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for a massive suicide bombing Monday that killed more than 100 soldiers.

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Jihadist websites posted a statement purportedly from the group, Ansaar al-Sharia, claiming responsibility for the attack. But CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement.

The partially lawless Middle Eastern country has become a central battleground in the fight against al Qaeda. The terror network's leader recently called for an uprising against the nation's new president.

The Yemeni branch of the group calls itself al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; Ansaar al-Sharia is an affiliate of AQAP.

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