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70 killed in blast at ammunition factory in Yemen

March 28, 2011 18:42 IST

A massive blast ripped apart an ammunition factory in southern Yemen, killing 70 people and wounding more than 100 in fresh violence in the strife-torn key Arab state, where crucial transition of power talks have been stalled.

"At least 70 people were killed in the explosion in the ammunition factory near Jaar town in South Yemen," Al-arabia channel reported, quoting a local government official.

The explosion came a day after the factory was overrun by Al Qaeda militants. "The explosion shook the town of Jaar and could be heard up to 15 kms away," the official, Mohsin Salem, said.

Other security officials said the heavily-armed militants numbering more than 30 raided the plant, which makes ammunition for Kalashnikov rifles. They said the Al Qaeda men later stormed and captured Jaar town itself.

With President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government weakened by a student uprising and a military revolt, a large swaths of Yemen have been taken over by Zaidi Shias in the North and Al Qaeda-led separatist movement in the south, which is hoping to recreate South Yemen state that united with the North under Saleh's rule in 1990.

The attack by the suspected Al Qaeda men in the Abyan province came as President Saleh warned of Somalia-like situation developing in Yemen if he steps down without an agreed successor.

Renewed violence hit the country as talks on transition of power between Saleh and his former top estranged General Mohsin Ali broke down, Al Jazeera reported.

The Arab channel said the negotiation appeared to have stalled following an interview by the President where he said that he would not step down until elections took place at the end of the year.

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