Toll hits 200 in battle with Qaeda for Yemen town
04/13/2012 15:58 GMT
ADEN, April 12, 2012 (AFP) - Clashes between armed civilians and Al-Qaeda militants trying to retake control of the town of Loder spread on Thursday to nearby Mudia, as the death toll from four days of clashes reached 200, local sources said.
At least 23 people, 20 of them suspected militants, were killed in one suburb of the southern town, tribal sources said.
The rest of the dead were tribal levies allied with government troops who were killed in the jihadist assault on the Abyan province town, the sources said.
Residents of the province, mainly from Loder and Mudia, formed armed groups in 2011 after Al-Qaeda militants overran the provincial capital of Zinjibar.
At least 51 people were killed on Wednesday in a third day of clashes in and around Loder, according to military and tribal sources.
Loder lies some 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of Zinjibar, the Abyan capital that militants of the Al-Qaeda-linked Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) overran last May.
Al-Qaeda briefly seized Loder in August 2010 before being driven out by the army, while armed men from the Assal tribe also ejected the militants from Mudia.
A tribal source said the militants wanted to recapture it because of its strategic location between Shabwa, Bayda and Lahij provinces where Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is also active.
Abyan has fallen completely under the control of the terror network except for Loder and Mudia.
The United States considers the Yemen-based AQAP to be the most deadly and active branch of the global terror network.
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