Clashes in Shabwa as Yemeni forces hunt Al Qaeda militants

Six members of Elite Forces killed in battle with tribesmen protecting suspected militants

Yemeni pro-government forces patrol near Mukalla airport, southwestern Yemen, on November 29, 2018. In azure waters off Yemen, newly minted coastguards stormed a fishing boat in a mock exercise as part of a war-scarred city's struggle to resurrect state institutions two years after Al-Qaeda's ouster. In a nation torn by conflict, the former jihadist bastion of Mukalla stands out as an oasis of stability, offering what many call a blueprint for post-war Yemen. / AFP / Saleh Al-OBEIDI
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Heavy clashes broke out on Friday between the Yemeni government's Elite Forces in Shabwa province and tribal gunmen protecting suspected Al Qaeda members in the north-western district of Markha.

Colonel Mohammed Salem Al Bouher, commander of the Elite Forces, told The National that six of his troops and nine of the gunmen were killed in the clashes in a village called Al Hajar.

Another 13 soldiers and dozens of the gunmen were injured in 12 hours of fighting that ended at 1pm.

Col Al Bouher said the clashes started when an Elite Forces battalion tried to storm the village in search of Al Qaeda suspects but were blocked by the tribal fighters.

The situation was resolved when a committee of tribal elders intervened and convinced the gunmen to hand over the suspected extremists.

Col Al Bouher did not say how many suspects were detained or provide other details about them.