Thousands Flee Yemeni Village as Security Forces Battle Al Qaeda Militants

SAN'A, Yemen -- Yemeni police say thousands of people have fled a southern village where security forces are laying siege to Al Qaeda militants who took over houses there.

The police chief for the surrounding district, Abdullah Baouda, says government forces have moved into the village of Hawta with tanks and armored vehicles and 90 percent of its residents have fled. One fleeing family said Monday that forces have shelled the village indiscriminately for the past two days.

The village is in Yemen's mountainous Shabwa province, one the areas where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken root over the past year and a half.

Yemen's Al Qaeda offshoot has been linked to the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.