By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 9, 2012- According to military and security officials at least 3 soldiers were killed on Wednesday and 5 others were wounded in the Yemen's southern province of Abyan.
The officials said that heavy artillery shelling by Ansar al-Sharia, a group linked to al-Qaeda militants, targeted military unites in Lawder district of Abyan, which has been the scene of fierce clashes for more than a month.
''Ansar al-Sharia targeted also the houses of residents within Lawder city, destroying several houses there'' a tribal figure reported.
Meanwhile, a security official said that Yemeni army repulsed an attack by Ansar al-Sheria, killing at least one militant and wounded score of them in the eastern city of Zinjibar.
"Score of al-Qaeda militants killed and wounded during an attempt by the group to attack the headquarters of Central Security and military positions in Zinjibar city,'' the security official stated.
Battles against al-Qaeda militants by the Yemeni government troops backed by tribesmen in the Yemeni province of Abyan where swaths of towns are controlled by the militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda, have been continued for more than a month.
Hundreds of soldiers and Ansar al-Sharea have been killed since last month in Lawder and Modiya towns in Abyan during ongoing battles between the Yemeni army and al-Qaeda militants.
More than 250 people have been killed since government forces intensified a crackdown on the militants who the authorities accused of attacking a military camp near Lawdar last month.
Taking advantage of the one-year-long political conflicts in Yemen, al-Qaeda militants in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), locally known as Ansar al-Sharea, has taken control of several cities and swathes of land across the restive southern provinces.
Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen is considered one of the terror group's most dangerous. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) was formed in January 2009 by a merger between two regional offshoots of the international Islamist militant network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The militants mainly entrenching itself in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.
President Abdu Raboo Mansour Hadi, who took office promising to fight al-Qaeda, is also facing challenges from Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north and secessionists in the south.