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Hani Mohammed, Associated Press
Yemeni vendors sit in side their shop decorated with posters showing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the old city of Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni military officials say clashes in the country's south have killed six al-Qaida-linked militants and wounded 10 soldiers.

Wednesday's fighting near the city of Zinjibar is the latest since militants seized the area last spring. Government forces have failed to push them out.

Yemen's active al-Qaida branch has stepped up operations across the country's weakly governed provinces while the government has focused on putting down a nearly year-old popular uprising against autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh handed power to his deputy before leaving the country on Sunday on his way to the U.S. for medical treatment. Yemen is to hold new presidential elections Feb. 21.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under military rules.