An anti-militant offensive launched by the Yemeni military in the country's southern Abyan Province has resulted in the death of at least 22 rebel fighters as well as six soldiers, media reports citing unnamed military officials said Wednesday.
The military offensive, backed by local tribesmen, reportedly targeted the town of Jaar, a militant stronghold north of the provincial capital Zinjibar. While six Yemeni soldiers and 12 militants were killed in fierce clashes on the northern and western outskirts of Jaar, seven more militants were killed in government shelling of the town.
According to Yemeni military officials, three more militants were killed in an air raid that targeted a militant communications center near Shaqra in Abyan province. A day earlier, three Yemeni soldiers had died after rebels ambushed their convoy in Abyan.
Yemeni military had begun the ongoing anti-militant offensive in Abyan on May 12 with the intention of recapturing areas seized by al-Qaeda-linked militants over the past year. More than 350 people, including 250 militants and 50 soldiers, are believed to have died in Abyan since the offensive began.
A weak government led by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi is struggling to enforce order in the largely lawless country since his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in February under a peace initiative mediated by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Incidentally, al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants have established themselves in Yemen's southern and south-eastern regions, taking advantage of the instability triggered by the year-long uprising that eventually ousted Saleh.
by RTT Staff Writer
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