Yemeni officials: Al-Qaida fighters kill 20 troops

Associated Press
FILE - This file photo released by the FBI Thursday, May 15, 2003 shows Fahd al-Quso, who was charged as an al-Qaida member who helped to plan the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in 2000. Yemeni officials say an airstrike has killed a top al-Qaida leader who was wanted in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Local official Abu Bakr bin Farid said Fahd al-Quso was killed Sunday, May 6, 2012 along with an aide in an airstrike in the southern Shabwa province. (AP Photo/FBI, File)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni military officials say al-Qaida militants have killed 20 soldiers and captured 25 in a surprise attack on an army base in the southern Abyan province.

The officials say Monday's pre-dawn assault was staged by militants who managed to reach the army base both from the sea and by land. It came a day after a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI's most wanted list was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen.

The officials say government forces later shelled militant positions elsewhere in Abyan, killing 16 militants. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Yemen's fighting has concentrated near Abyan's provincial capital of Zinjibar, which has been held by al-Qaida militants for a year.