Four Al-Qaeda fighters and two members of tribes that support the military also died in the clashes that were ongoing mid-morning in Loder, a stronghold of the terror network in restive Abyan province, they said. The barracks, home to the 111th Armoured Brigade of the Yemeni army, had come under fire from the Muslim insurgents early in the morning and soldiers returned fire, military sources said.
Heavy fighting ensued as the soldiers were backed by tribesmen. The attack came after air strikes killed 24 suspected Al-Qaeda militants in their strongholds in southern and eastern Yemen at the weekend, according to the defence ministry and a tribal chief. The city of Loder is located about 150 kilometres northeast of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province which the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) overran in May 2011.
The Partisans of Sharia is linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which the United States considers the most active branch of the global terror network. It has exploited a decline in central government control that accompanied Arab Spring-inspired protests that eventually forced Yemen's veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power.