Thirty-three people, including six soldiers, were killed on Saturday (May 26th) in clashes between al-Qaeda and the army in southern Yemen as troops advanced towards Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, AFP reported.
Troops "cleansed" Maraqi and Mashqasa, located on the northeastern outskirts of Zinjibar, and seized machineguns, rockets, and rocket propelled grenades.
Soldiers on Saturday dealt "heavy blows" to militants in Maraqid and Mashqasa, killing at least 20, most of them Somalis, Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Sawmali told the defence ministry news website 26sep.net.
Two soldiers were also killed, he said. Troops "cleansed" the area, located on the outskirts of Zinjibar, seizing machine guns, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.
Meanwhile, in Jaar, four soldiers were killed in battles on the town's outskirts. Seven militants also died.
Yemeni forces launched an offensive on May 12th to capture al-Qaeda controlled areas in Abyan. Since the offensive began, 332 people have been killed, according to a tally compiled by AFP, including 242 Al-Qaeda fighters, 55 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 17 civilians.