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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 1, (Agencies): The Kuwaiti Defense Ministry has denied reports that a Kuwaiti soldier participating in the Operation Renewal of Hope was killed in Yemen.
The ministry’s Moral Guidance and Public Relations Department urged in a statement to ensure accuracy and to get information on the Kuwaiti army only from the department. Meanwhile, three civilians including two children have been killed in cross-border missile attacks from Yemen on a residential area in southwestern Saudi Arabia, civil defence authorities said.
Eleven others were wounded, among them nine children, when several missiles hit residential districts in the Jazan region on Thursday, civil defence spokesman Major Yehia al- Qahtani said in a statement. Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition that has been battling Iranbacked rebels in neighbouring Yemen since March.
The rebels intensified their rocket attacks across the Saudi border in recent days, prompting the coalition to threaten severe reprisals. The Saudis have deployed Patriot missile batteries designed to counter attacks and have recently been intercepting missiles fired from Yemen on an almost-daily basis. More than 80 people, most of them soldiers and border guards, have been killed in shelling and cross-border skirmishes in the kingdom’s south since coalition operations began in Yemen.
In Yemen the conflict has left nearly 6,000 people dead since March, according to UN figures. Six people were killed in a firefight Friday between Yemeni pro-government forces and al-Qaeda suspects who were travelling in a weapons-laden vehicle toward second city Aden, security officials said. Militiamen at a checkpoint in the southern Abyan province stopped the suspected jihadists, prompting an argument that sparked a gun battle, the sources said.
Three al-Qaeda suspects and the same number of loyalists were killed. Among the dead was the head of a court set up by al-Qaeda in the southeastern city of Mukalla, which has been under their control since April, the sources said. Yemen has been rocked since March by deadly fighting between pro-government forces and Iran-backed rebels, who seized the capital in September 2014 before expanding south. The conflict has been exploited by jihadist groups, who have made sweeping gains, particularly in southern regions.
The pro-government army commander of Yemen’s Aden survived a car bombing in the second city on Thursday that left one of his bodyguards dead, a military official told AFP. General Ahmed Saif al-Yafie, commander of the Fourth Military Region, which includes Aden and its surroundings, escaped unharmed when an explosive device planted in his vehicle blew up, killing the guard, the source said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Aden, declared by the government as Yemen’s temporary capital, has been the scene of growing unrest as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long active in Yemen, and the newly emerged Islamic State group appear to be vying for influence in the port city. It was rocked by months of fighting this year between pro-government forces and Iran-backed rebels who seized the capital Sanaa in September 2014 before expanding south.
Supported by a Saudi-led coalition, loyalists have regained control of Aden and four nearby provinces in the south since July as fierce battles persist across the country. In another sign of increasing insecurity, unknown gunmen shot dead a leading member of the pro-government Popular Resistance militia and two of his bodyguards, security officials said. They were killed in a drive-by shooting in central Aden overnight Wednesday and the gunmen fled after the attack, the sources said.
The government has been struggling to exert control over Aden as jihadist groups exploit the conflict to make sweeping gains, particularly in southern regions. The extremists are occupying government buildings and are frequently seen patrolling several districts of Aden. They have carried out several deadly attacks, assassinated government officials, and intimidated civilians.