By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 13, 2012- Local official in Abyan province said that the latest battles between Yemeni government soldiers backed by tribesmen and Islamic militants since Monday led to the killing of more than 28 people of tribesmen and the wounding of 40 others.
The source mentioned that 5 people were killed and 15 wounded on Monday, while 15 others killed with 10 were wounded on Tuesday, on Wednesday 6 people were killed while 24 people from local committees were wounded, on Thursday 2 people were killed and 7 others were wounded during consecutive clashes in the province. According to the official 40 al-Qaeda militants were killed only on Monday.
At least 34 people, mostly Islamist militants, including 3 tribesmen, were killed near the southern Yemeni city of Lawdar on Friday in clashes between government forces and an al-Qaeda linked group, sources reported.
According to Yemen's Defense Ministry statement the latest clashes brought the death toll since Monday to more than 200 people.
Local committees in Yemen's southern province of Abyan arrested two al-Qaeda leaders during the clashes erupted on Friday."Rawf Nasseb and Jalal al-Sefi were arrested by pro-government tribesmen between Um Ein and Zora cities,'' local tribal sources told bikyamasr.com.
Yemen's Defense Ministry said that military troops and armed civilians killed 28 al-Qaida-linked militants in battles in the southern part of the country.
In a statement released Friday that hours of fierce battles drove al-Qaida militants from a town called Zara in the south.
Moreover tribal sources confirmed to bikyamasr.com that the Yemeni army forces retook the strategic town of Um Ein in the southern province of Abyan during battles on Friday.
The fighting is the latest in a series of bloody confrontations between government forces and militants in southern Yemen where militants control a patchwork of towns taken mostly last year during the country's political turmoil.
According to analysts, al-Qaeda in Yemen is considered a serious and growing threat for Yemeni government and for the United States.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates when he took office earlier this year after his predecessor quit under pressure from anti-government protesters and foreign powers anxious to halt a slide into mayhem.
Militants have since stepped up their operations against the army, carrying out a string of deadly attacks that have cast a long shadow over the country’s first month’s post-Ali Abdullah Saleh.
In return, the Yemeni air force has launched air strikes on suspected militant strongholds and the United States has joined in with drones.
The United States and Saudi Arabia – both targets of al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing – fear Yemen is becoming a major front in its campaign against the militant network, which has been dealt a number of blows over the past year, not least the killing of its founder and leader Osama bin Laden.