By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 18, 2012- Yemen's Defense Ministry said that two al-Qaeda leaders killed on Friday in an ambush conducted by tribal figures backed the Yemeni forces in the Yemeni city of Ba Tiss.
Ahmed Abdu Nabi and Nader al-Shadadi were killed and score others were wounded during an ambush in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, where fierce clashes between Yemeni troops and al-Qaeda militants have been continued for more than a month.
Meanwhile, Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic group linked to al-Qaeda militants said Friday in a statement posted on the Internet that their withdrawal from the whole city of Lawder in the province of Abyan is a tactic, denying at the same time the death of 12 people in Mothlth al-Kahraba district, saying they are not al-Qaeda militants.
"Our withdrawal from the whole city of Lawder is a tactic and we carried out our withdrawal without any loses in our fighters or equipment, adding the dead bodies were found by tribal fighters in Mothlth al-Kahraba district are not belonged to al-Qaeda group," the statement read.
Furthermore, the group said that they shelled on Wednesday the Security central headquarters in Zinjibar district of Abyan province with tanks, admitting that the battles in Jabal Yosef were very hard.
Yemeni troops killed 11 al-Qaida fighters in southern Yemen on Friday, as government forces battled their way into the outskirts of a key town under the militants' control, military officials said.
Al-Qaida-linked fighters have taken over a swath of territory and several towns in the south over the past year, 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.
On Friday, Yemeni troops moved in on Jaar in Abyan province, killing eight al-Qaeda fighters in clashes about 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the town. Recapturing Jaar would better position the military to take back Zinjibar, the provincial capital that has been under al-Qaida control for more than a year.
Also in Abyan, a Yemeni warplane struck an al-Qaida checkpoint some 70 kilometers (45 miles) east of Zinjibar in an area known as Shoqra, killing three militants and wounding six, officials said.
The fighting in the south, particularly around Jaar, has displaced tens of thousands of civilians.
Town residents said that hundreds of families from the surrounding area flooded into the city on Friday to escape the clashes.
One civilian who fled to Jaar, Al-Muqbala Yasin, said by telephone that the military had bombed his hometown just outside of Jaar. He said that he saw al-Qaida militants burying their dead in what he called "mass graves" there.