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Gunfight Erupts Between Yemen Presidential Guards, Militants

by VOA News May 09, 2014

In Yemen, witnesses say a gunfight broke out Friday between militants and security guards outside the presidential palace.

News reports quote unidentified security sources as saying at least four of the security forces were killed after being attacked by the militants and exchanging fire for more than 20 minutes.

Yemen's army has been carrying out an offensive against al-Qaida militants in the country's volatile south.

Al-Qaida fighters reportedly also attacked Yemen's defense minister Friday in an apparent assassination attempt.

Security and military officials say suspected militants ambushed Mohammad Nasser Ahmad's motorcade as the defense minister was traveling to Shabwa province.

The minister and the senior security officials accompanying him were reportedly unhurt. Officials say they were returning from a trip to monitor the army's offensive in the south.

This is not the defense minister's first time surviving an assassination attempt. He has faced a number of them.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida -- al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP - is seen by the United States as the terrorist network's deadliest branch.

Earleir, Yemeni security forces arrested two French citizens believed to be members of an al-Qaida cell in Yemen, an official security source told Reuters on Friday.

The men were arrested on Thursday while trying to leave through one of the country's airports, the source said.

The two men were identified as Mourad Abdulla Abad and Taha al-Issawi, both French citizens of Tunisian origin, the source said, adding that they were believed to belong to an al-Qaida cell in Yemen's eastern Hadramout province.

The French embassy in Yemen was not available to comment.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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