By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 16, 2012- At least 35 people were killed, including militants and causalities, while several scores were wounded on Sunday evening in Yemeni and American air strikes in the Yemeni city of Abyan where fierce clashes took place against a Yemeni Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda.
Close sources said that the air strikes targeted hideouts of al-Qaeda militants in southern district of Umm Ain killing at least five al-Qaeda militants.
Meanwhile Yemen elite forces which were deployed lately to Abyan as military reinforcements to fight alongside Yemeni troops backed by tribesmen against al-Qaeda militants mistakenly fired towards civilian houses while they were trying to fire on an army tank that had been captured by the militants on Monday. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage there.
According to witnesses, 28 people were killed during an air strike conducted by a US drone strike along with heavy artillery targeted al-Qaeda militant hideouts in Sahan district of Abyan province, bringing the six-day death toll in the fighting to 257, most of them from the militants.
Moreover, sources mentioned that at least one army soldier and seven al-Qaida militants were killed in overnight clashes between government forces and the ansar al-Shareah militants in Yemen's province of Abyan.
Yemeni military officials say al-Qaida fighters trying to take control of a key southern town launched two attacks on residents, leaving a total of seven people dead.
Officials said that clashes in the city of Lawder killed two al-Qaeda militants and an armed civilian fighting back.
Also on Sunday, a suicide bomber drove his car through a civilian checkpoint west of Lawder, killing three people manning it.
The militants want control of Lawder, a town of about 30,000 people, which lies on a key road linking three provinces. Clashes over the past week have left more than 222 militants and 20 civilians dead.
Many of the civilians in Lawder took up arms to protect their town against al-Qaida.