Thousands of civilians continue to flee to safer areas adjacent to the city of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, after the city was taken over by armed extremists from various organisations, including al-Qaeda.
The opposition, the government and the ruling Congress Party exchanged accusations about who was responsible for providing support to such groups.
Ahmed Ghaleb al-Rahwi, Deputy Governor of Abyan, told Al-Shorfa, "Armed fundamentalist groups, whose numbers are estimated at 300 people coming from the cities of Jaar and Lawder, which are areas with an al-Qaeda presence, attacked the city, security centres, and the local authority."
Al-Rahwi said, "The governor and local officials have fled to the nearby city of Aden," adding that the 25 Mika Brigade, a unit of the Yemeni army, was still resisting the militants.
"The chief of al-Qaeda and the jihadists is a Pakistani man, who might have been killed during the clashes, in addition to nine others, as well as 20 wounded," he said, referring to casualties recorded among the armed fighters since the conflict began Friday morning.
Al-Rahwi called on the armed forces, the government and the opposition "to unite in order to rid the city of terrorist elements, which have destroyed everything in the city". He denounced the looting of government and public buildings carried out by these fighters, in which he said some citizens also participated.
Sheikh Nasser al-Fadhli, Secretary General of the Local Council in Zinjibar, said most members of the armed groups that seized control of the city are "Afghan Arabs, extremist fundamentalists from the Muslim Brotherhood, and some tribesmen who wear the mantle of religion while they are dealing narcotics and weapons".
Fadhl Shabibi, director of the official Saba news agency in Abyan, said the situation "has become tragic. The clashes taking place since last Friday morning have killed dozens and injured hundreds of civilians".
Shabibi told Al-Shorfa he managed to escape with his family on Saturday night when the situation had calmed down, and many of the displaced fled on motorcycles.
"As for those remaining there, they are calling for help, but they won’t be able to escape as a result of the deteriorating situation, especially after their homes were destroyed by artillery shells and RPG grenades," he added.
Shabibi said the gunmen "were killing the soldiers despite their surrender, and prevented the burial of their bodies, which were exposed to the sun and the wind and dumped in the streets, and that militants had burned several military vehicles".
Khaled Hassan Salem, 40, who works in communications, was injured in the clashes and transferred to a hospital in Aden. He said that inhabitants of his area were terrified by the scene of armed groups in the city.
He told Al-Shorfa that when the fighting started, a shell fell near his house and a fragment hit him between the eyes, and he fell unconscious. The shell also wounded 10 other civilians.
Sultan al-Atawani, a leader in the Joint Meeting Party, told Al-Shorfa that control of armed groups in Zinjibar "is supported and fabricated by the regime in order to continue in power".
The Joint Meeting Party issued a statement condemning the events in Zanzibar, describing the armed groups as "created by the Saleh regime for use as a scarecrow to scare the West".
The Joint Meeting Party urged "all the forces of change and peaceful revolution in Abyan and in other provinces to take quick political and social measures to block such criminal schemes, which were implemented by Saleh after all options in front of him have been blocked and the only option left for him was to leave immediately".
The Yemeni Interior Ministry condemned the Joint Meeting Party's statement, accusing the opposition of "deluding and covering up their plan of sabotage and aggression, which encompasses a number of provinces".
The ministry statement said, "They [the Joint Meeting Party] were the ones who tamper with security and stability to stir chaos and violence."
Tariq al-Shami, spokesman for the Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa, "The false claims about the takeover by these terrorist elements are exposed by the violent battles fought by the heroes of the military and security forces and aided by honourable citizens to confront these terrorist elements."
Zinjibar is the second city that al-Qaeda fighters have occupied after they took over the city of Jaar in March, which was declared an Islamic Emirate.