Middle East

Yemeni troops attack al-Qaida militants; 26 die in battle

Yemeni security officials say pro-government forces attacked al-Qaida militants in the country's south, killing 15 jihadis but losing 11 of their own troops.

The officials say the fighting began when security forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting Yemen's Shiite rebels elsewhere in the country, on Tuesday attacked an al-Qaida stronghold in the Marakasha mountains in Abyan province, east of the southern city of Aden.

The area has long been a militant haven, attracting fighters in the 1990s returning from Afghanistan after fighting the Soviets.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.

Impoverished Yemen has been at war since rebel Houthis swept into the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. In the ensuing chaos, al-Qaida extremists managed to grab some territory.