SANAA, Yemen, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Yemeni children are getting caught in the cross fire between al-Qaida and Yemeni forces, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said.
Most of the citizens in Yemen's southern Shabwa province fled as the government ramped up its offensive against al-Qaida fighters holed up in the region.
Geert Cappelaere, the UNICEF envoy to Yemen, said escalating conflict in Yemen was putting children at risk.
"Children have been injured in the fighting and continue to be at risk from unexploded ordnance, land mines and other explosive remnants of war," he said in a statement. "Schools that have just reopened have been disrupted because school buildings are being used to host displaced people."
Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. national and al-Qaida leader, is allegedly hiding in southern Yemen. He has ties to a November shooting rampage in Texas and a failed plot to blow up a U.S. passenger plane.
The Yemeni government last week confirmed that the U.S. military was operating in the region in a limited capacity against al-Qaida.