Monday, June 4, 2012

Yemeni army kills 15 al-Qaida militants in restive south

ADEN, Yemen, June 3 (Xinhua) -- A total of 15 al-Qaida militants were killed Sunday evening by the Yemeni army in the southern province of Abyan, a government official said.

The armed forces shelled an al-Qaida-held site near Jaar town in Abyan, killing at least 15 terrorists at the scene, the local government official told Xinhua on condition anonymity.

Scores of al-Qaida fighters fled their sites in western Jaar, as the armed forces advanced toward the besieged town, the government official said.

About eight army soldiers were critically injured during the confrontations with al-Qaida militants at the center of Abyan's capital Zinjibar, according to an army commander.

"Masked fighters of the al-Qaida group sneaked into our site and fired more than four grenades that seriously injured several soldiers," he said.

"Fierce fighting is still taking place between the two sides with explosions ranging out across Zinjibar's neighborhoods," he added.

The Yemeni government troops have waged an intensive military campaign, with support of the United States and Yemen's oil-rich neighbor Saudi Arabia, against several bastions of the al-Qaida terrorist group in Abyan province since last month.

The offensive aimed at recapturing several southern towns and cities seized by the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) during last year's political chaos.

The Yemeni authorities promised to assemble reinforcements of the elite Republican Guards and counter-terrorism troops to push the al-Qaida militants out of Jaar town and Zinjibar, the two strongholds of the AQAP.

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