At least 15 suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed in army air raids in and around the restive city of Zinjibar in southern Yemen, security and local officials told AFP on Monday.
Fifteen people were killed in Sunday’s raids, including a local leader of the network, Nader Shadadi, said a security official, while another 17 were wounded.
A local official said one of the air strikes hit “a roadblock set up by Al-Qaeda” near Al-Wahda stadium east of Zinjibar, which has mostly fallen into the grip of Qaeda-linked extremists.
An armoured troop carrier, captured by the militants in fighting with the army, was destroyed in another raid, the official added.
Two other raids targeted the militants’ positions in the agricultural area of Khamila, eight kilometres (five miles) south of Zinjibar, and in the town of Al-Amudiya to the north, local officials said.
At least 42 people were killed in violence which rocked several towns across the southern province of Abyan on Friday.
Militants of the “Partisans of Sharia” (Islamic law), which is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, seized control of much of Zinjibar in May. Thousands of residents have since been displaced by fighting.
According to Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi, the United States has provided logistical support to Yemen’s 25th Mechanised Brigade, which had been besieged by the militants in Zinjibar.
US commanders have repeatedly expressed concern that the jihadists have been taking advantage of a protracted power vacuum in Sanaa to expand their operations.
Since January, protesters have been demanding the ouster of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia since early June being treated for wounds sustained in a bomb blast at his palace.