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Fighting kills 10 militants in Yemen as UN envoy pushes president to transfer power
SANAA, Yemen (AP) ' Yemeni government forces and allied tribesmen killed ten militants in attacks around the country Sunday, security officials said, as a visiting United Nations envoy met with embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh to push for a solution to the country's political crisis.
Security has collapsed across the Arab world's poorest nation during the nine-month popular uprising seeking to oust Saleh, who has been in power for 30 years.
Pro-Saleh forces regularly engage in deadly clashes with armed tribesmen and military defectors who support the protesters in Yemen's largest cities, and al-Qaida-linked militants have overrun entire towns in the country's restive south.
Meanwhile, international diplomacy has failed to stop the crisis. Saleh has refused numerous times to follow through with a U.S.-backed proposal crafted by Yemen's powerful Gulf Arab neighbors under which he would transfer power to his vice president in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Two of Sunday's clashes took place near Zinjibar, the largest town overrun by al-Qaida-linked militants in Yemen's southern Abyan province, now partially recaptured by the army. In one clash, tribesmen allied with government forces exchanged fire with militants at a checkpoint, killing three including two Somali citizens, an official said. In the other, the army shelled a militant position, killing five including two Saudi citizens.
In the Arhab region north of the capital Sanaa, Yemeni forces shelled positions held by armed anti-government tribesmen, killing two, another security official said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
In Sanaa, U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar met Saleh to push for a transfer of power.
The U.N. said Benomar's weeklong visit to Yemen was intended to encourage the Gulf-backed proposal, which the Security Council has endorsed.