AL-MUKALLA: Four Yemeni soldiers were killed and several others injured by roadside bombs in Yemen's southern province of Abyan after military forces attacked Al-Mafed, Al-Qaeda's bastion.
Mohammed Al-Naqeeb, a spokesman for the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council, which commands military operations in Abyan, told Arab News that two bombs exploded on Sunday as a convoy of soldiers drove through Omaran valley, an area that once housed Al-Qaeda facilities, killing four soldiers and injuring several others.
Al-Naqeeb said: “We don't know if the roadside bombs were planted by Al-Qaeda today or during the most recent military operations.”
A military offensive against Al-Qaeda militants began last month inside their strongholds in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa. The action followed a series of deadly attacks on military and security outposts and kidnappings, for which Al-Qaeda claimed credit.
Southern forces launched the fourth and final phase of the Eastern Arrows military offensive on Saturday by attacking Al-Qaeda's last stronghold in Abyan.
Al-Naqeeb said that forces were preparing to move toward the district's remote and rugged mountains, which have long housed Al-Qaeda militants and military facilities.
The province of Abyan will be declared free of militants for the first time in years if government forces take full control of the district's urban and rural areas.
Al-Qaeda militants, according to local military officials, sought refuge in other mountains in the Houthi-controlled central province of Al-Bayda, while others fled to Wadi Hadramout and Marib.
Yemeni military forces in Shabwa earlier drove Al-Qaeda out of Al-Mousinah and pursued them to the province’s mountainous areas.
Separately, local and international human rights organizations and activists have condemned the Houthi drone attack in Taiz, which left eight civilians injured.
According to residents, a drone struck a civilian vehicle in Al-Majasha in Maqbanah district, west of Taiz, injuring eight.
The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the civilians were on their way to a wedding and were not close to a military location. It called for international condemnation of the Houthis’ repeated and arbitrary attacks.
It added: “The civilians were not part of an armed group and were not near a military area or site, reflecting the true intentions of the Houthis.”
The UN-brokered truce that took effect on April 2 did not bring peace to Taiz, and the Houthis continue to target residential areas with explosive-rigged drones, artillery rounds and heavy machine-gun fire.