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AL-MOUKALLA: At least three Yemeni soldiers were killed and six others, including a military leader, were injured when al-Qaeda militants detonated improvised explosive devices and carried out attacks in Abyan province on Monday, in southern Yemen, in an effort to halt the advances of the Yemeni army into militant strongholds.

Two local officials told Arab News that the soldiers had been killed as soon as their vehicles hit improvised explosive devices planted by al-Qaeda in Moudia, while advancing in remote areas of the region.

“Al-Qaeda militants cannot stop the advancing troops from the south: they just laid mines and launched attacks quickly before fleeing,” said an official who wished to remain anonymous. .

Yemeni troops, mainly commanded by the Southern Transitional Council, have succeeded in suppressing some al-Qaeda hideouts about 35 km east of Moudia, and continue to advance in areas farther from Abyan.

Residents say they heard loud explosions and saw thick smoke billowing from mountainous areas east of Moudia on Monday as advancing forces exchanged gunfire with al-Qaeda militants.

The military activities in Abyan are part of an offensive launched on Saturday by local security forces, aimed at scaring al-Qaeda militants from their long-established hideouts in Abyan and Shabwa, where the militants are organizing deadly attacks on government-controlled areas.

Over the past three days, the army has taken control of much of Abyan territory, including three valleys each hosting al-Qaeda training centers. Security forces also entered Khaber al-Marakesha, an arid, mountainous area that hosts al-Qaeda militants, including Jalal Baliedi, a senior leader killed by a US drone in 2016 in the same area.

In Shabwa, Yemeni forces expelled Al-Musainah militants and are currently pursuing remaining Al-Qaeda elements in the mountains of the area.

Ongoing operations in Abyan and Shabwa provinces will cease as soon as the two provinces are cleared of al-Qaeda militants, local military commanders say.

However, due to Al-Qaeda’s knowledge of the harsh topography of Abyan, Shabwa and Al-Bayda, local military forces may not be able to advance further into the mountains of these three provinces, the analysts.

Asked by Arab NewsYahiya Abou Hatem, military analyst, explained that the Al-Qaeda group had long taken refuge in remote and mountainous areas of Abyan devoid of population and public institutions.

“Terrorist organizations operate on dead and difficult ground where they can easily set up military installations and take refuge in caves and valleys,” said Abu Hatem.

“In these areas, public services have been absent for a long time.”

Al-Qaeda is also thriving in areas between Abyan and Shabwa and near Houthi-held Al-Bayda, due to the unusual relationship between al-Qaeda and the Houthis that prompts militants to carry out attacks in the liberated areas in exchange for protection and weapons, Abu Hatem continued.

“These liberated areas, especially in the southern provinces, would not have been safe if Al-Bayda had not been liberated from the Houthis, if a single command room had not been formed and if the intelligence services had not been activated,” concluded Abu Hatem.

This text is the translation of an article published on

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