Middle East

23 Al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen, officials say

Jan. 25, 2012: Yemeni armed tribesmen stand guard in front of Ameriyah religious school which was seized by Al Qaeda militants in Radda town, 100 miles south of the capital Sanaa, Yemen.

Jan. 25, 2012: Yemeni armed tribesmen stand guard in front of Ameriyah religious school which was seized by Al Qaeda militants in Radda town, 100 miles south of the capital Sanaa, Yemen.  (AP )

Yemeni officials say at least 23 Al Qaeda-linked militants have been killed in fighting in the country's south.

The confrontations come during Yemen's campaign to retake parts of the south from Al Qaeda following a year of internal turmoil.

Military officials say Al Qaeda militants tried to storm a small town north of the group's stronghold of Jaar in Abyan province on Thursday. Armed civilians along with soldiers backed by artillery fought off the Al Qaeda militants, officials said. At least 20 were killed in the battle

Also in the south, warplanes bombed a vehicle suspected to belong to Al Qaeda on the road between Jaar and another Al Qaeda stronghold — Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, killing three militants.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.