Yemeni Defense Ministry said on Sunday that military and security forces have killed seven more al- Qaida militants in continuing clashes in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, increasing the death toll of al-Qaida militants since last Friday to 12, Xinhua reported.
The ministry's website citing the security director of Abyan province, Brigadier Abdulrazaq al-Marwani as saying that the seven al-Qaida militants were killed during a special raid carried out by security and military units against al-Qaida's hideouts in Lodar city of Abyan on Sunday.
Al-Marwani said the coordinated security and military campaign still besieged al-Qaida members who holed up in some residential houses in Lodar, adding the campaign would be continued to force them to surrender.
Meanwhile, a security official in Abyan's capital city of Zinjibar told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that tanks, mortars and heavy weapons were used in the latest raid against houses where al-Qaida members were believed to hole up.
The official said that "sporadic clashes took place at local time 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) in Lodar and lasted for two hours."
The clashes have been continuing since last Friday in Lodar, during which security forces killed five al-Qaida militants and arrested three others in clashes following a string of ambushes by militants against the security personnel in Abyan, according to the ministry.
Abyan province is thought to be a stronghold of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) after it witnesses a series of deadly attacks allegedly carried out by the regional terrorist wing since earlier this year, leaving dozens of security personnel dead and injured.
Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al-Qaida network leader Osama bin Laden, has intensified security operations and air raids against terrorist groups, after the Yemen-based al-Qaida wing claimed responsibility for a failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger plane bound for Detroit last year.