More dead in as clashes continue in Abyan between Al-Qaeda, army troops

Published on 4 June 2012 in News
Mohammed Al-Samei (author)

Mohammed Al-Samei

The leader of Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan, Abu Hamza Al-Zanjubari, appeared in a video clip posted Wednesday denying that the army recaptured military positions in Ja’ar, the stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Abyan.

The leader of Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan, Abu Hamza Al-Zanjubari, appeared in a video clip posted Wednesday denying that the army recaptured military positions in Ja’ar, the stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Abyan.

ABYAN — A military official confirmed on Sunday that at least six militants linked to Al-Qaeda were killed and others were wounded when army troops repelled an attack launched by militants on a branch of the Central Bank as well as on other institutions in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, in a bid to gain control of the city.

The unidentified official told the state-run news website that clashes with the militants lasted from 5 to 7 a.m. Sunday, and the troops managed to repel the militants’ attack and to kill some of them.

The Yemen Times tried contacting military leaders in Abyan, but it recieved no information on the ongoing clashes in areas of the southern governorate.

Abyan security chief Ahmed Masaoud told the Yemen Times that he has no precise information on the clashes, while a media source pointed out that it’s difficult to obtain specifics on the ongoing clashes between the army and Al-Qaeda militants in Abyan owning to defects in communication networks there.

On Saturday, the army launched a fierce attack on groups of Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. They attacks aimed at gunmen in the Al-Haror area on the outskirts of Jaar, an Al-Qaeda stronghold, leaving many people on both sides either  killed or wounded.

The army’s attack is a part of an effort to take control of militant-held posts that have impeded the advance of the army toward Jaar.

Furthermore, air force aircrafts struck Al-Qaeda hideouts inside Jaar, destroying many buildings.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s Al-Kheej newspaper reported Sunday that Al-Qaeda leaders said their gunmen had repelled attacks by the army on their posts in Al-Haror.

Military sources said clashes between the army and Ansar Al-Sharia errupted Friday evening and Saturday morning on the outskirts of Zinjibar, killing four militants and wounding others.

The leader of Al-Qaeda in Abyan, Hamza Al-Zanjibari, appeared in a video clip posted Wednesday in the October 7 military base  in Jaar, denying that their posts were stormed by the government forces.

“Here we are in the October 7 camp, and it’s still under our control. We hear lies from the government-run media outlets and other outlets without credibility and accuracy , which say that government troops took control of this position. The troops are still very far away from here,” Al-Zanjibari said.

He downplayed the effect of the military campaign the army has been waging since early May against their posts and strongholds in Abyan.

“Our men managed to cut off Al-Alam—the main road linking Aden with Abyan—and burn down a military pickup truck, killing all the soldiers on board. We also bombed a military vehicle. And this is evidence that we are doing well in the battles. We reject the rumors, launched by the sellout government, saying their troops managed to take control of our posts,” he said.

On May 12, the army, assisted by the tribal militias, started an extensive military campaign in an effort to regain control of Zinjibar as well as other towns controlled by Al-Qaeda.

At least 375 people have been killed since the beginning of the military campaign. Among those killed were 275 militants, 65 soldiers, 18 tribesmen fighting alongside the army and 18 civilians, according to an Agence France Press poll.

On Saturday, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi ordered Republican Guard forces commanded by Ahmed Saleh, the son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, to storm Zinjibar and eject the militants.

Sources told Al-Khaeej that Hadi ordered the commander of the Republic Guard to take the central role in clearing Zinjibar from the militants. According to sources, extra units from the Republic Guards have already departed for Zinjibar at Hadi’s behest.