Toll climbs to 25 as Yemen's army clashes with suspected al-Qaida militants for a second day

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Yemen's Defense Ministry says seven suspected Al-Qaida militants have been killed in clashes with the army, bringing to 25 the death toll among militants in an army operation aimed at defending a key southern city.

The ministry says in a statement that the clashes took place in the southern city of Sayoun, one of the biggest in the province of Hadramawt. Security reinforcements have deployed over fears that Yemen's al-Qaida franchise might try to seize the city.

On Wednesday, the military said it had killed 18 al-Qaida suspects in clashes in the same area.

In the spring, the military waged a wide offensive against al-Qaida strongholds in the south. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is seen by Washington as the most dangerous branch of the global terror network.