SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni soldiers killed six al-Qaida-linked fighters in a southern city on Saturday, a security official said, raising doubts about the government's claim to have retaken control of the area after months of fighting.
The city of Zinjibar, which is the capital of Abyan province, was seized in May by Islamic militants taking advantage of the turmoil surrounding the popular uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to expand their reach beyond Yemen's remote hinterlands. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has used Yemen as a staging ground for attempts to strike U.S. targets.
Islamic militants are still holding ground in the east of the city, said the security official, who the Associated Press reported spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. Six soldiers were wounded in the fighting, he said.
The months of violence there forced more than 100,000 residents of Zinjibar to flee to neighboring provinces, with some seeking refuge in schools.
It is one of several places in the south seized by the militants during the spiraling unrest, which began in February with protests calling for Saleh's ouster after 33 years ruling the Arab world's poorest country.
Saleh's critics accuse him of allowing the militants to take over the cities to support his argument that without him in power al-Qaida would take control of the country.
The United States views al-Qaida's branch in Yemen as the terror network's most dangerous and has carried out airstrikes against al-Qaida targets there.
Violence continued to shake Yemen's second-largest city, Taiz, on Saturday as anti-government tribesmen clashed with members of Saleh's Republican Guards. No injuries were reported.