Ayad al-Shabwani, a leader of Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been killed in fighting with the army, a military source said on Thursday.
Shabwani was killed on Tuesday in heavy fighting that continued into Wednesday between the army and suspected Al-Qaeda militants near Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, east of the main southern city Aden, the source said.
The official Saba news agency had said earlier that “two prominent members of the Al-Qaeda leadership were killed … in Abyan province,” naming them as Ayad al-Shabwani and Awad Mohammed Saleh al-Shabwani.
Yemen had said before that Ayad al-Shabwani was killed, along with five other leaders, in a January 15 air strike on a convoy of vehicles. Three days later, AQAP denied that either Shabwani or the five others had been killed.
Militants believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda took over much of Zinjibar in late May, and have been battling security forces ever since, displacing thousands of residents.
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of veteran Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan on May 2.