6 Killed as Yemeni Troops Advance on Qaida Bastionإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
At least six people have been killed in overnight battles in Yemen's war-torn southern Abyan province as troops inched closer to the al-Qaida stronghold of Jaar, military and local officials said on Monday.
"Five al-Qaida militants...and one civilian was killed," a military official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity.
He said the dead Qaida operatives included a "mid-level commander" of the network known as Abdul Rahman al-Musallami.
A local official in Jaar confirmed the toll and said the bodies of the five militants were taken to the city for burial.
Yemeni troops advanced to "about three kilometers of Jaar," and have "surrounded the city from the north, the east and the west," said the military official.
He said the overnight assault on al-Qaida positions in and around Jaar involved both ground troops and Yemeni air force. "We are tightening the noose around al-Qaida," he added.
The army also made strides in their advances on Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan that fell to the militants in May 2011, he said, but gave no further details.
Yemeni forces launched an all-out offensive on May 12 this year to capture al-Qaida controlled areas in Abyan.
Since the offensive began, at least 338 people have been killed, according to a tally compiled by AFP, including 247 al-Qaida fighters, 55 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 18 civilians.