Yemen says govt troops kill 30 Islamic militants

Yemen's Defense Ministry says government troops have killed 30 Islamic militants in the troubled southern province of Abyan.

A brief statement said the militants were killed Monday night and Tuesday, but gave no other details.

Military officials and witnesses say warplanes bombed areas in the province known to be under the control of the militants, but it's not immediately clear whether the airstrikes led to the death of the 30 militants.

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

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Clashes have killed a total of 19 people, including three children, in two Yemeni provinces, military and medical officials said Tuesday, signaling no respite to the violence in the poor Arab nation shaken by months of unrest.

Even after the departure of its embattled leader of nearly 33 years, the officials said dozens of suspected Muslim militants attacked an army position in the southern Abyan province late Monday night. The ensuing gunfight left nine soldiers and six of the attackers dead. The post in the province's Doves area remains in the hands of the army.

Abyan is known to be home to some al-Qaida militants, but the military officials could not say whether the attackers belonged to the terror network.

In Taiz, Yemen's second largest city, clashes erupted Tuesday between gunmen and army troops near the presidential palace. It was not immediately known whether there were casualties, but a shell fired by a tank near the palace landed in a nearby residential area, killing four people, including three children.

The sound of several explosions was also heard in the city on Tuesday and the officials said warplanes were bombing targets on its outskirts. They could not identify those targets.

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

An attack on the presidential palace in Taiz on Sunday was blamed on a group recently set up to avenge the killing of anti-regime protesters at the hands of security forces. It was not immediately clear whether the same group was behind Tuesday's attack.

In a separate incident, Saudi Arabia said its border guards killed a Yemeni gunman who opened fire while trying to cross into Yemen in a jeep at a crossing near Najran, 60 miles (100 kilometers) inland from the Red Sea, early Tuesday. The Saudi statement said two guards were killed. No further details about the gunman were given. Infiltration in both directions along the 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) desert border is common.

The violence in Taiz and Abyan arose two days after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for neighboring Saudi Arabia to seek treatment for wounds he suffered in a Friday rocket attack on his compound in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. The attack killed 11 bodyguards and seriously wounded five senior officials.

Saleh underwent successful surgery in Saudi Arabia on Monday to remove shards of wood from his chest and treat heavy burns on his face and chest. It is not known when he planned to return to Yemen, but a top official said he would return home within days, a step almost certain to cause more violence.

A return by Saleh would likely spark new, intensified fighting between his forces and opposition tribesmen determined to topple him. Both sides' fighters are deployed in the streets of the capital, and a cease-fire brokered by Saudi Arabia only a day earlier was already starting to fray, with clashes killing at least six over the past 24 hours.