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19 killed as military retakes key part of city

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemen's military regained part of a strategic southern city Saturday after an intense battle with al-Qaida militants left 19 people dead as the government tries to purge the insurgents from their strongholds, officials said.

The battle comes as the government seeks to regain parts of the country it lost to al-Qaida militants who took advantage of last year's chaotic uprising against longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize new ground.

Military and medical officials said 12 militants and seven troops died and nearly 30 militants were injured during the battle with Yemeni forces.

The coastal city is the capital of Abyan province, and driving al-Qaida out of it would loosen al-Qaida's grip over Yemen's southern territories.

In Lawder, another town in Abyan province, at least 250 al-Qaida militants and 37 government soldiers have been killed in two weeks of fighting, the defense ministry said Friday.


Five Taliban members caught with explosives

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan security forces arrested five militants with 22,000 pounds of explosives that they smuggled in from Pakistan to carry out a massive attack in Kabul, as well as three other suspects allegedly planning to assassinate the vice president, an official said Saturday.

The reports of planned attacks in the Afghan capital came a week after militants said to be part of the Pakistan-based Haqqani group launched coordinated assaults in the heart of Kabul and in three other cities.

Three of the five men arrested with the explosives were Pakistani Taliban members, while the other two belonged to the Afghan Taliban, a national security spokesman told reporters. He said their orders came from militant leaders with ties to Pakistani intelligence.

He also said security forces had foiled an assassination attempt by the Haqqani network against Afghan Vice President Mohammed Karim Khalili.

He said three Afghan men who were arrested last Sunday, the day the Kabul attacks began, planned to kill Khalili at his home.