A total of 31 soldiers were mistakenly killed Sunday when warplanes of the Yemeni air force carried out two botched air strikes against al-Qaida targets in the restive southern province of Abyan, a local army officer said.
The two botched air strikes hit a school that had been taken over by government troops of the 119th Armored Army Brigade earlier in the day, mistakenly killing 31 soldiers, the officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The government troops managed to seize the control of the school in Bagdar area east of Zinjibar city, the capital of Abyan province, after heavy clashes with al-Qaida militants Saturday evening, he said.
Fierce fighting was still going on in various areas of Abyan province between the government troops and al-Qaida militants, he added.
However, Yemen's Defense Ministry denied the friendly fire incident in a brief statement posted on its website.