Apr. 5, 2012
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni government troops have killed more than 100 al-Qaeda fighters in the past two days in an offensive against militant hideouts in the country's south, the interior ministry said Thursday.
The military has been waging intense battles in the southern Abyan and Lahj provinces to rout the militants. The area has seen heavy fighting in the past week after two subsequent militant attacks on Yemeni army bases.
The interior ministry said the air and land offensive has rattled the militants, who are trying to regroup near the sea. The authorities vowed to continue their campaign.
The ministry's figure could not be independently confirmed. Earlier figures reported by The Associated Press said nearly 50 militants have been killed in the last few days of fighting in southern Yemen.
The statement gave no other details about the offensive and did not mention any casualties sustained by the military.
Al-Qaeda and other militant groups have taken advantage of Yemen's yearlong political turmoil to overrun large swaths of territory in the country's south, even capturing several key cities and towns there.
Yemen's uprising, inspired by Arab revolts elsewhere, forced longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in February. His successor, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, was later rubber-stamped as president in a nationwide vote. Hadi has vowed to fight al-Qaeda while restructuring the armed forces, in which Saleh's loyalists and family members still hold key posts.
Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the movement's most dangerous offshoot.