At least 13 soldiers and 30 suspected Al-Qaida militants were killed in fierce battles in south Yemen as the army was preparing to retake the most stronghold of the militants the Jaar town in Abyan province, Almasdar Online reported, quoting military sources. Militants carried out a surprise attack on a military post in the Rahwat Al-Hisan area south of Jaar killing five soldiers and injuring four others, it said, adding that the army responded killing at least six militants in that front.
Separately, militants destroyed two tanks killing the soldiers inside but the casualties could not be counted or confirmed, it added. The army decided on Friday to further step up the offensive on Al-Qaida militants in Abyan after the forces in association with tribal fighters cleared the militants from key towns over recent weeks.
The battles continued until Saturday after noon with several troops and almost two dozen militants killed, the website said.
Warplanes also participated in the battles carrying out several airstrikes which killed at least five militants in Jaar, it said. Airstrikes were also carried out in the Shuqra town, one of the towns held by Al-Qaida last year.
The army has so far cleared the militants from towns including Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, and military sources have stated it is only a matter of time to clear the militants from the areas held in the south.
The US is providing direct support in the battles, with drones killing many militants including senior leaders.