After clearing Lawdar of militants, clashes heat up around Ja'ar
A soldier in the Counterterrorism Unit (CTU) in Zinjibar told the Yemen Times, "About 20 soldiers were wounded on Saturday by mines laid by Al-Qaeda militants, a day after 40 soldiers and 60 militants were killed." He said that among those killed were five leading figures of Ansar Al-Sharia.
The Yemeni army has expanded its military operations to regain control of towns which have been taken over by Ansar Al-Sharia.
On Sunday, fierce clashes took place between army troops assisted by tribal militias and gunmen from Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. War planes have been striking Al-Qaeda-held posts and hideouts in the area, according to the CTU source.
He pointed out that troops and tribal militias—which were formed to help the army eject the terrorists from the towns—advanced towards Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, and Ja'ar, the second biggest town in the governorate and an Al-Qaeda stronghold which the militant group took over in May of last year.
The battle heated up on Friday evening in the nearby area of Al-Hasen, close to the October 7th Ammunition Factory on the outskirts of Ja'ar.
Army troops and the tribal fighters managed to clear central areas of Abyan like Lawdar, Modia, Al-Wadhia and Al-Ain from the militants. However, Zinjibar and Ja'ar are still under Ansar Al-Sharia control.
A media activist, Araf Al-Wan, said in a statement to Yemen Times that Lawdar and Al-Ain are now completely clear of Ansar Al-Sharia.
He pointed out that since April 9, more than 72 tribal fighters have been killed, and 250 others wounded.
"More than 59 militants were killed last Wednesday and Thursday in Lawdar. Furthermore, several vehicles belonging to the militant group were destroyed in the battles," he said.
According to Al-Wan, some of the Ansar Al-Sharia militants killed were not Yemenis, but from other Arab countries.
Abyan's governor Jamal Al-Aqal said on Saturday that Ja'ar would be clear of Ansar Al-Sharia militants in the coming two days.
Citizens in the town confirmed that troops are deployed around Ja'ar.
Al-Khaleej newspaper cited Al-Aqal as saying that army troops and tribal militias will be able to push the militants out of Ja'ar within two days.
Al-Aqal stressed that Lawdar is completely free of Al-Qaeda militants and that troops are currently pursuing the militants in Maudia and Al-Wadhia areas.
He indicated that troops, assisted by the tribal fighters, started taking positions around Ja'ar preparing to launch heavy military operations intended to dislodge militants from the town.