SANA - Yemen's army seized the Al-Qaeda strongholds of Jaar and Zinjibar on Tuesday, officials said, more than a year after the jihadists captured most of the Abyan province.
|emen's Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed (R) shakes hands with army soldiers during a visit to the southern city of Zinjibar June 13, 2012, one day after the army retook it from al Qaeda-linked militants. REUTERS|
Al-Qaeda militants had overrun most of the southern province of Abyan including Jaar and Zinjibar more than a year ago, taking advantage of a central government weakened by 'Arab Spring'-inspired protests.
"With the cooperation of the citizens of Abyan... the heroes of the armed forces and the popular resistance committees have taken full control of the city of Jaar," the defense ministry said, quoting southern military commander Salem Ali Qoton.
"Al-Qaeda has suffered heavy losses... and dozens of militants have fled" the town, said Qoton, adding the army was able to reopen the main road linking the Abyan province with the southern port city of Aden.
On Thursday, Yemeni troops and tribesmen advanced on the southern coastal town of Shaqra, driving out al-Qaeda linked militants in a U.S.-backed offensive to recapture territory, a local official and residents said.
Government troops and tribal fighters were a few kilometers from Shaqra after retaking the area held by the insurgents on the outskirts of the town on Wednesday.
Many of the insurgents fled at dawn and headed toward the town of Azzan after setting fire to two tanks and other military equipment, residents of Shaqra said.