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At least 30 soldiers and some 14 suspected Al-Qaeda militants have been killed during a clash in Yemen's southern Abyan Province, military officials report.

The fighting on March 4 occurred just west of the provincial capital, Zinjibar, which has been controlled by militants since May.

A year of political turmoil in the Arabian Peninsula country, which saw longtime president Ali Abdullah Salleh step down following mass protests, has allowed Al-Qaeda-linked militants to strengthen their foothold in Yemen, particularly in the south.

With reporting by AP and AFP