By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 14, 2012- Yemen Defense Ministry's website reported that at least 22 Ansar al-Sharia militants along with 6 Yemeni soldiers were killed on Monday during clashes in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, where fierce battles have been taking place for more than a month between militants linked to al-Qaeda and Yemeni troops backed by tribesmen.
The website said that at least 22 al-Qaeda militants were killed over the last two days in the clashes in the city of Zinjibar, south Yemen, while 6 soldiers were killing, including an army officer.
Clashes between the two sides left six troops dead on Monday, according to the website. The military, backed by heavy artillery, has recently pushed into Zinjibar and regained control over some parts of the city.
Meanwhile, Yemeni troops moved towards Jaar city of Abyan, regaining control over Ba Taiss city.
On Monday, at least 16 al-Qaeda fighters were killed in a Yemeni airstrike in Abyan, while six soldiers were killed in clashes with fighters inside Zinjibar in the country's troubled south where the army is trying to uproot the group.
Yemeni war planes struck an al-Qaeda hideout about 70km from Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, which armed groups captured last year.
The bombardment killed at least 10 fighters, the officials said.
The army also fired missiles at a moving vehicle on the outskirts of another southern town, Lawder, killing six fighters inside it, the officials said.
In related news, Yemen's Interior Ministry reported at least ten al-Qaeda militants were killed, amongst two Saudi nationals along with Egyptian national, in an air raid conducted by Yemeni forces two days ago against al-Qaeda militants in Mareb and Shabwa provinces.
The ministry said the two Saudis were centered in Al-Wadi district of Abyan, pointing out that the raid came simultaneously with a military campaign conducted by the army against stronghold of Al-Qaeda militants in some towns of Abyan.