Renewed clashes over Lawdar
Military forces and the people's defence committees, local groups established to fight Ansar Al-Sharia, in the city of Lawdar had defeated Ansar Al-Sharia and drove them away after fierce clashes last Monday, which killed 90 people on both sides of the conflict.
However, since the renewed clashes a prominent official of the people's committees reported that the residents in Lawdar announced a state of alert since clashes renewed. Ansar Al-Sharia resumed continuous shelling of Lawdar starting from the south-east, adjacent to the Al-Ain area, to which Ansar Al-Sharia had withdrawn last Tuesday to protect themselves from the attacks.
The prominent official added that Yemeni warplanes launched a major attack on the Al-Ain area, focusing on strongholds where Ansar Al-Sharia has been stationed, to prevent them from connecting with remnants in Al-Ain area on the south-east entry to Lawdar.
Close coordination between the 111 Brigade of the Yemeni army and tribal leaders of the district of Lawdar have been able to free the town of Lawder in Abyan from Ansar Al-Sharia fighters over the last three days. Fierce fighting has occurred across the district since Monday.
Jamal Hussein, a journalist based in Abyan, said that about 100 fighters from Ansar Al-Sharia were killed or wounded. Two senior leaders of the Al-Qaeda affiliated group, Ali Omar and Khalid Mohammad Ahmed Al-Hanashi, were killed.
Hussein told the Yemen Times that the army and public committees captured at least 40 operatives of Ansar Al-Sharia. The commander of the 111 Brigade that is affiliated to the Eastern Military Region coordinated with tribal leaders of Lawdar and provided the local public committees with weapons to stage the attack.
He asserted that two vehicles of Ansar Al-Sharia were seen transferring the corpses of its fighters to Shaqrah city, located between Zinjibar and Jaar.
A senior leader of the public committees in Lawdar told the Yemen Times that Ansar Al-Sharia have only one tank positioned next to electricity building located four kilometers away from the city of Lawdar.
A field leader of the public committees, who requested anonymity, said that Ansar Al-Sharia conducted funeral processions for the killed militants in the Maeen area located about 4km from Lawdar, confirming that about 70 militants were killed. Hussein quoted eyewitnesses as saying the militant's bodies were seen in a mosque in Maeen.
According to the same source, the local public committees called on all people in Lawdar to reopen their shops on Tuesday now the militants have been driven out.
The source said that the tank controlled by Ansar Al-Sharia continued to shell the city until noon on Tuesday. One child, Omar Al-Hadad, was killed in the shelling, and six others wounded. Hussein said that eight members of the public committees were also killed by snipers firing from a house near the Lawdar electricity building.
Most parts of Lawdar district are now under the control of the public committees after the militants were pushed back.
Elsewhere in Lawdar district, Yemenis warplanes launched strikes on Monday against a military position previously captured by Al-Qaeda. They destroyed a tank that had been captured by militant fighters.
News reports stated that the violent clashes in Lawdar district have left 30 to 40 soldiers of the 111 Brigade missing. A commander of a military unit and its staff were killed on Monday after soldiers withdrew leaving behind a tank, two vehicles, guns and a weapons store that included light and medium weapons.
A Yemeni security source affirmed that Al-Qaeda militants exploited bad weather to carry out an attack using light and medium weapons.
On Saturday military units pursued Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the Kood area near Zinjibar, killing at least 16 militants.
An Ansar Al-Shariha fighter said that ”more than 50 mercenaries of the public committees” were killed on Monday in the attack to retake Lawdar city.
In a statement, Ansar Al-Sharia said that the attack resulted in the deaths of four militants and the wounding of 16 others. They also claimed to have captured a huge quantity of light and medium weapons, four tanks, three machine guns and two vehicles.
The statement also claimed that the militants had managed to take control of three military positions of the 111 Brigade, and that their forces would impose a siege on the city to storm it and “purge it of the mercenaries.”