Armed militants killed at least 16 Yemeni soldiers in attacks on a checkpoint and an ambush. There were an unspecified number of injuries.
Six of the assailants were wounded in one of the clashes which took place in the southern province of Lahj, officials said.
The south of the province have also witnessed widespread demonstrations and clashes between civilians and security forces leading to casualties in both sides.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are thought to be behind the killings of the soldiers.
January 10-14, 2010
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
Widespread unrest in the south of Yemen has been ongoing and increasing over the past two years. The views of southern secessionists and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) aims have overlapped in their opposition to the regime in Sanaa. Although many in the south were traditionally supporters of the Socialist Party, their view that the unity with the north is a form of northern occupation has led to intensified and increasingly popular calls in the south to separate from the north. AQAP on the other hand, consider the Sanaa regime as their enemy and are working to overthrow it. This overlap of interest between groups with opposing ideologies has helped strengthen AQAP’s position, which is also gaining strength in its own right.
The intensification of attacks to this unprecedented level of sustainability and intensity is the biggest threat so far facing the unity of the country.