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4 troops, 13 suspected militants die in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen--Clashes in Yemen between the army and al-Qaida's local branch killed at least 13 suspected militants and four troops Saturday, military officials said.

The officials said the fighting started in the early hours when a suicide car bomber attacked a military camp in the city of al-Qatn in the southern province of Hadramawt. Militants then assaulted the camp, prompting a gunbattle that lasted for more than an hour that killed 10 suspected militants and four troops.

The army also fired artillery at a nearby home believed to hide al-Qaida fighters, killing three suspected militants inside, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The U.S. considers Yemen's al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula the most dangerous branch of the group in the world. The U.S. provides assistance to Yemen's security forces and carries out drone strikes in the country against suspected militants.

Besides the al-Qaida offshoot in the south, the government has been facing a standoff with a powerful Shiite rebel group based in the north that has battled the government and ultraconservative Islamists for years.

For two weeks, authorities have been on alert, and the country's top security body has warned of Hawthi rebels carrying arms, taking positions on rooftops and setting up tents near at least three ministries. The group has been demanding a new government and the reinstatement of fuel subsidies.

On Saturday, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi appealed to the group to end its sit-in in the capital, and said he will send one more time a presidential delegation to the north to resume talks over ways to end the standoff.

Presidential aide Fares al-Sakaf told The Associated Press the delegation will hold talks with rebel representatives for four more days. Previous rounds of talks failed to diffuse the crisis.

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