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Al-Qaeda resurfaces, capturing key southern town from Yemeni government Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Al-Qaeda resurfaces, capturing key southern town from Yemeni government

File Photo: AQAP seized Zinjibar and other parts of Abyan province in 2011 [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2015

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Al-Qaeda's franchise in Yemen have captured the important town of Jaar from pro-Hadi forces in southern Yemen, as Saudi-led coalition continues its air campaign across the country.
Al-Qaeda fighters seized a strategic town from pro-government forces in southern Yemen on Wednesday after clashes that left at least seven people dead, security officials said.

The Islamic militants took control of Jaar in southern Abyan province, which is a key link between main southern city Aden and Mukalla, the Qaeda-held capital of the southeastern Hadramawt province, a military source said, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

     
      AQAP threatened the Saudi government on Tuesday [Getty]
Houthi rebels have been battling pro-government forces in Yemen for months, the forces loyal to President President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in July launched operations to retake five southern provinces, including Abyan and Aden, from the insurgents.

But Islamist militants, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group [IS], appear to have gained ground in and around Aden, where militants are now visibly present.

The battle for Jaar killed four pro-government "Popular Resistance" fighters, including a commander, security officials said.

Three al-Qaeda fighters were killed as clashes continued on the outskirts of Jaar, the sources said.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] in October occupied government offices in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

See Also: Red Cross says Tunisian employee kidnapped in Yemen

It has imposed a strict version of Islamic law in Mukalla, which it seized in April.

On Tuesday, AQAP threatened the Saudi government over its plan to carry out a mass execution of prisoners, including al-Qaeda members.

Last month, radical Islamist gunmen entered a faculty at Aden University, forcing students to leave the campus, and locked down the faculty's main gate, according to witnesses.

They said the gunmen closed the faculty after they had threatened to use force against students if they did not observe segregation of the sexes on campus.

AQAP militants, already active in the south and southeast, have exploited the unrest in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been pounding rebels since March.

On Wednesday, coalition war planes conducted air raids in the Houthi rebel bastion of Saada in the far north of the country as well as in Maarib province, east of Sanaa, according to the Houthi-run Saba News Agency.

The rebels last year seized the capital Sanaa, and their expansion into central and southern areas forced Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia before later returning to Aden.

The US considers AQAP to be the most dangerous affiliate of the al-Qaeda militant network.

AQAP seized Zinjibar and other parts of Abyan in 2011, where members remained before being defeated by local army-backed militias a year later.

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