Briefly: Mideast

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YEMEN

Security official: Islamists kill five soldiers

SANAA — Radical Islamists who overran a south Yemen town killed five soldiers in an ambush on Tuesday, security officials said, while fresh clashes broke out in the capital between security forces and fighters from the country’s most powerful tribal confederation, edging the country toward civil war.

Almost four months of mass street protests across Yemen calling for democratic reforms and the ouster of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh have rocked the stability of this impoverished corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Mr. Saleh’s security forces fatally shot four protesters in the southern city of Taiz on Monday, medics said, bringing the two-day death toll there to at least 25.

The upheaval in Yemen has sparked fears that militant groups will take over. al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operates in its weakly governed provinces along with several other radicals, like the ones who overran the town of Zinjibar near Yemen’s south coast over the weekend.

A Yemeni security official said militants ambushed an army unit driving toward the town Tuesday, killing five soldiers and injuring 12. The militants fired on the army convoy from behind, forcing them to speed into an ambush where other gunmen fired on their cars.

The soldiers killed two militants before fleeing the area, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

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