By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 20, 2012- Fierce clashes between pro- government tribesmen and al-Qaeda militants left 21 people on Sunday in Yemen's southern province of Abyan.
Officials said 11 al-Qaeda fighters, 4 soldiers and 6 tribal committee fighters were killed since the early hours of Sunday.
Alsahwh.net said that 11 al-Qaeda militants were killed, including senior leaders in the clashes with Yemeni troops backed by local figures.
"Yemeni army could surround the eastern front of Jaar on Sunday, pointing out that they took control on a road linking between Shabwa and Jaar,'' the website stated.
Yemeni army backed by local tribesmen conduct a large-scale military campaign against stronghold of al-Qaeda in some towns of Abyan.
The army started a two-pronged attack on the town of Jaar on Friday. It is part of a broader assault to take back Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, which has been also under al-Qaida control for more than a year.
Al-Qaida-linked fighters took advantage of Yemen's 2011 uprising to overrun a swath of territory and several towns in the south, pushing out government forces and establishing their own rule. In recent weeks, the army has launched a concerted effort to uproot the militants from their strongholds — and is closely coordinating with a small contingent of U.S. troops who are helping guide the operations from inside Yemen.