Yemeni army kills 40 al-Qaida militants in restive south

Yemeni army kills 40 al-Qaida militants in restive south
# 14 June 2012 23:53 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Yemeni army troops backed by pro-government militiamen have killed at least 40 al-Qaida militants in the southern province of Abyan on Thursday, the defense ministry said, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The army troops supported by dozens of pro-government militiamen attempted took control of a key site near Shakra, a coastal town on a major shipping route, after they launched a wide- scale attack on an al-Qaida stronghold in Abyan province, the country’s defense ministry said in a text message obtained by Xinhua.

Battles for control of the Shakra coastal town, one of the last remaining al-Qaida strongholds in Abyan, killed about 40 al-Qaida militants, the ministry said.

"More than 300 members of the al-Qaida terrorist group suffer from a suffocating siege imposed by our brave soldiers that restricts all movement ... including land, air and sea space," the ministry added.

A military official told Xinhua anonymously that three soldiers were killed and 13 wounded in armed clashes with al-Qaida militants in Shakra town.

Fighting is going to continue overnight as the al-Qaida militants still hold small parts and neighborhoods in Shakra, the officer said.

Earlier in the day, scores of militants of the Yemen-based al- Qaida wing have withdrawn from Yemen’s southern town of Shakra, which they overran a year ago, a Yemeni security official said.

The security official said that the al-Qaida militants along with several vehicles loaded with weapons have left Shakra, after the army drove them out of two other cities in Abyan.

On Tuesday, the Yemeni armed forces took control of Jaar and Zinjibar, two major al-Qaida strongholds in Abyan that had been under al-Qaida control for more than a year.

The Yemeni government troops have waged an intensive military campaign since last month, with support of the United States and Yemen’s oil-rich neighbor Saudi Arabia, to uproot the al-Qaida militants from the southern regions.