Baku-APA. Clashes broke out between scores of pro-government militiamen and al-Qaida militants in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Thursday, leaving at least 14 people killed, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said, APA reports quoting Xinhua.
The pro-government militiamen backed by a unit of the armed forces clashed with al-Qaida militants in the mountainous region of Maraksha in Abyan province, leaving at least 14 people killed on both sides, the Defense Ministry said in a brief text message obtained by Xinhua.
"About eight terrorists and six members of the pro-government militiamen were killed in the ongoing fighting near the al-Qaida- held region of Maraksha," the ministry said.
A pro-government tribal chief told Xinhua anonymously that "in cooperation with the armed troops, we attacked the al-Qaida militants to drive them out of our region."
"The al-Qaida militants may carry out suicide bombings in retaliation for the ground assault, but we are going to continue with more attacks," the tribal chief said.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, known locally as Ansar al- Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), took advantage of a political upheaval in 2011 in Yemen to take over several towns of the southern restive regions.
The militants were targeted by the Yemeni security authorities after a U.S.-backed offensive launched in the southern Abyan province months ago routed the militants out of their strongholds that they had controlled for nearly a year.
The Yemeni government along with the United states and oil-rich Saudi Arabia have beefed up anti-terror operation since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February 2012.