April 11, 2011
Yemeni army withdrew late on Saturday from several regions in southern province of Abyan to the eastern edges of the southern port city of Aden following fierce battle with al-Qaida militants, local intelligence official said.
"Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has become real force ... the withdrawal of the army forces came following two days of fighting, during which dozens of people were killed from both sides," the official told Xinhua by phone on Sunday.
"The AQAP militants have seized control over at least five tanks and around 15 armored vehicles during that clashes in Al- Makhzan and Jaar towns and in other neighboring regions," he added without elaborating further.
According to an eyewitness, militants of the AQAP have been patrolling with three armored vehicles and a tank around Jaar city since early Sunday morning.
In a statement broadcasted through the Abyan Radio Station they seized recently, the AQAP announced that they "managed to defeat the government army forces and forced them to withdraw from their 'Abyan Islamic Emirate' to the border of Aden."
"We will cleanse the city of all enemies within next few days," they said in their statement.
A resident of Jaar told Xinhua that a military plane was flying low over the central area of Jaar city since early Sunday morning.
A local source told Xinhua on Friday that AQAP announced through Abyan Radio Station that they warned the government army to rapidly withdraw from all lands of their "Islamic Emirate" in Abyan or they would by killed by AQAP's ready suicide squads.
Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, is a key stronghold of resurgent al-Qaida wing which has carried out frequent attacks against the Yemeni security and military personnel since 2009.
Yemen has witnessed weeks-long anti-government protests demanding an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The political crisis recently resulted in deterioration of security and stability after the government pulled the police out from some towns of major provinces under pretext of avoiding friction with protesters.