By Shuaib M. al-Mosawa
Dozen al-Qaeda fighters and military officers, including the commander of an air defense battalion, were killed when clashes broke out in Abyan province on Sunday afternoon, security sources told the Yemen Observer.
A security officer said that the general director of Lawdar district said that commander of the air defense battalion, Abdulla al-Futaihi, and five other officers were killed when they clashed with al-Qaeda fighters in Aqad area which he said was a “main stronghold of al-Qaeda”.
The security officer also said that five other al-Qaeda members were killed in the same clash. Local media reported that among the al-Qaeda fighters who were killed was one of the group’s leaders, Abu Younis, and another named al-Muhajer.
Aqda is surrounded by Lawdar, al-Wadee’a and Modiah which are all considered main al-Qaeda strongholds, the officer added. The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken Abyan province as a launching pad to attack Yemeni government and western targets since the Saudi and Yemeni branches merged in January 2009.
U.S. officials regard AQAP as a threat to the west and fear that it could exploit the current political instability in Yemen to control more areas in the country. Security sources confirmed on Monday that 11 AQAP fighters were killed in clashes with the military. Two of these were foreign nationals.
Source: Yemen Observer