Al-Qaeda resumes activity in south Yemen
Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:10 GMT
Tribal militias in south Yemen
Sanaa - Khalid HarojiMilitant clashes took place in south Yemen on Wednesday between tribal militias and a group of al Qaeda-linked militants who attacked a village in Abyan province. This was the first attack by al-Qaeda in south Yemen after they were driven from their strongholds in a US-backed military offensive carried out by the Yemeni army six weeks ago, local sources told Arabstoday.
The sources said that the clashes, which took place in the village of Batias, involved the use of diverse types of weapons including heavy artillery. The fighting left three militants dead and two other al-Qaeda fighters injured, while three local fighters were injured who fought alongside the Yemeni army in last month's military campaign in the south against al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda had seized major cities in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa in the early stages of the people's uprising against Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in March 2011. They remained in control there until they were forced to withdraw after receiving many casualties amongst its fighters against the Yemeni army in last month's campaign.
However, local sources and eyewitnesses in Abyan province told Arabstoday that al-Qaeda militants could still be seen moving between the southern villages and towns in the last few weeks, but Wednesday's attack was their first militant activity since their withdrawal.
Local observers believe that this latest attack was meant to prove that al-Qaeda is still active and effective in the regions which they previously controlled. However, this attack could also be intended to remove the focus of the security apparatus away from Mahfad city, where al-Qaeda is reported to be establishing a new training camp, according to the observers.