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Yemeni government forces clear parts of Aden of al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda has established a strong presence in the south of Yemen [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2016

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Pro-government forces in Yemen pushed al-Qaeda militants out of parts of Aden on Wednesday in a new drive against the militant group in the country's second city, military sources said.

Yemeni forces loyal to the internationally recognised government pushed al-Qaeda militants out of parts of Aden on Wednesday in a new drive against the jihadists in Yemen's second city, military sources said.

Troops and militia retook the central prison and deployed on main roads across the Mansura residential district after a three-hour gunbattle with the militants, the sources said.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

Al-Qaeda fighters have exploited conflict between the government and rebels who overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014 to expand their control in the south.

A Saudi-led coalition, which intervened in support of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi when he fled into exile in March last year, concentrated its firepower on pushing the rebels and their allies out of Aden and neighbouring southern provinces, while Islamist militant groups took advantage.

But in recent days, the coalition has carried out a series of airstrikes against al-Qaeda in cities it has seized including Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla and Abyan provincial capital Zinjibar.

Five militants were killed and three wounded in Monday strikes on Mukalla, a major port city that the jihadists seized last April, provincial officials said.

Zinjibar residents said that al-Qaeda fighters were evacuating public buildings in the city on Tuesday in apparent fear of new strikes.

The coalition raids follow a US strike against an al-Qaeda training camp outside Mukalla last week that killed 71 militants, according to provincial officials.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people took part in an al-Qaeda-organised protest in Mukalla against the US raid, witnesses said.

"US raids will not defeat jihad," banners carried by the demonstrators said.

But other residents resisted the jihadists' efforts to get them to join the protest, the witnesses said.

There has been no let-up in the longstanding US air war against al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch, which it regards as the jihadist network's most dangerous.

US strikes have taken out a number of senior al-Qaeda commanders in Yemen over the past year.

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