Al Mukalla: Twelve soldiers were killed when Al Qaida militants attacked their checkpoint in a remote area outside Attaq town, the capital of Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa on Tuesday, a local military official told Gulf News.
A militant blew up his explosive-rigged car at a checkpoint manned by Shabwani Elite Forces in Noukhan region in Attaq district.
Another car carrying several heavily armed militants attacked soldiers’ tents and barricades with RPGs, bombs and gunfire.
“After killing the soldiers at the checkpoint, they besieged the tents and began shooting at the soldiers inside. Only three soldiers survived the attack,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak reporters, adding that the attack was carried out by Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants, who managed to escape.
Shabwani Elite Forces is a military unit tasked with cleansing the province from Al Qaida militants. Backed by the UAE air cover, the forces have expelled Al Qaida from their major strongholds in Shabwa, including Al Sayed district, Azzan town and Al Houta town.
Local officials told Gulf News that Al Qaida’s deadly attacks against army targets in the province have significantly dropped since the arrival of Shawbani forces and the militants are still hiding in a chain of rugged mountains linking Shabwa with Abyan.
Meanwhile in the southern city of Taiz, Yemen’s Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday government troops had taken control of Salo district, south of Taiz, after fierce fighting with Al Houthis militants.
“The national army troops have recaptured Salo from Al Houthi militia. This is an important gain,” Colonel Abdul Basim Al Baher, the deputy spokesperson for Yemen’s army in Taiz, told Gulf News by telephone.
Speaking about the strategic significance of this victory, Al Baher said Salo is a mountainous district that extends to more than 23 regions and overlooks a strategic road linking Taiz with Aden.
“We have cut off supply routes of Al Houthis militants in southern Yemen battlefields,” Al Baher said.
Fighting has raged in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, since last week when government forces launched a new offensive against Al Houthis who control the city’s outskirts.
The aim was to lift the Al Houthi siege on the city and put an end to three years of indiscriminate shelling that killed hundreds of civilians.
In the northern province of Sa’ada, Al Houthi’s main bastion, at least 20 militants were killed in fierce fighting with government forces in Bouqa region, east of Sa’ada, the Defence Ministry said in a statement on its website.