July 29, 2012
ADEN, Yemen - Yemeni fighter jets bombed two al-Qaida hideouts in the southern province of Abyan on Saturday, a security official told Xinhua without giving the number of casualties in raids.
The air forces bombed two compounds belonging to the al-Qaida militants near Mahfad town in Abyan province, while they were preparing to launch a fresh assault at government soldiers patrolling the restive area, the security official said on condition of anonymity.
"It was not immediately clear if any of the al-Qaida militants or some of their local leaders were killed in the air strikes. The bombing was in response to Wednesday's al-Qaida attack on pro- government checkpoints," the official said.
A local resident told Xinhua anonymously that "huge black smokes and fire erupted in one of the targeted compounds after military aircrafts fired some rockets on it".
"An abandoned al-Qaida training site was also pounded in the air shelling," he added.
The Yemeni government forces have been fighting al-Qaida militants in the southern province of Abyan for years, and hundreds of soldiers have lost their lives.
In the past two months, a US-backed offensive managed to expel al-Qaida militants from their major strongholds in the southern province of Abyan, which they had controlled for nearly one year during the political unrest in Yemen.
However, the al-Qaida militants still have a strong presence in the Mahfad town and some mountainous areas in Abyan.
Fighting al-Qaida militants in the restive south is one of the challenges confronting current Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has promised to launch a national dialogue to settle disputes among all political factions and to uproot the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida.