- Seven al Qaeda militants are killed in government attacks, security officials say
- "We are now getting to know where their hideouts are," one official says
- The government says it controls Abyan province, but recent violence says otherwise
Seven suspected al Qaeda militants were killed Wednesday in the southern Yemen province of Abyan, two security officials in the province said.
Among those killed in the government attacks were a Somali, a Moroccan, an Iranian, and a Pakistani, the officials said.
A security official in Abyan told CNN that more than 38 suspected terror fighters have been killed in government clashes over the past two weeks.
"We are now getting to know where their hideouts are, and this will result in more missile attacks against them," the official said.
No one was injured on the government side, the official said.
Troops shelled the main governmental complex in Zinjibar, a hideout for the militants for weeks now. Most of the government buildings in the province are still under the control of the militants.
Residents in the cities of Jaar and Koud in Abyan have noticed a growing number of foreign fighters in the province.
Although the Defense Ministry has maintained the regime's line by saying that Abyan, in southern Yemen, and more particularly its capital, Zinjibar are back in the army's control, the past week's bouts of violence are pointing to the contrary.
Eyewitnesses said that at least 200 foreign fighters were seen patrolling the city of Jaar and more were entering.
"You can never tell that Jaar is a Yemeni city. There are many different nationalities. It was never like this," said Ali Sulaiman, a resident of the city.
He added, "The more we hear are dying the more others enter the city. They are focused near Jaar hospital and the center of the city."
Residents in the neighboring province of Aden said fewer security forces are in the streets, and they fear this could open the way for militants to move in from Abyan.
"There have been four explosions in Aden over the last month, and all have the hallmarks of al Qaeda. The government is supposed to increase its security presence in Aden and in these days in specific," said Khaled Abdul Raheem, a resident who said suspected militants are now walking freely in Aden.
More than 100,000 Abyan residents have been displaced to Aden since May, when the Ansaar al-Sharia terror group took over the majority of the province, observers say.