Militants hit an army barracks in Abyan province, officials say
Al Qaeda has expanded its control over parts of Yemen
Government warplanes bombed al Qaeda positions last week
At least 17 suspected al Qaeda militants die in Monday's fighting
Editor’s Note: Read this story in Arabic
Al Qaeda militants seized control of a military base and two checkpoints during raids in southern Yemen on Monday in which at least 30 people died, security officials and residents said.
Hours of firefights erupted after the militants hit an army barracks in the Loder district of Abyan province in an assault that included heavy artillery, according to the officials.
The dead included 17 militants, 11 soldiers and two members of pro-government tribes, they said.
This is the second militant attempt to take over Loder this year. The first was in early January.
Yemen has poured thousands of troops into a battle with al Qaeda fighters in two southern provinces amid new airstrikes that killed a dozen of the militants Thursday, security officials said.
The offensive comes after militants killed dozens of troops and seized large quantities of weapons when it raided a military zone earlier this week. Numerous other Yemeni soldiers are still being held hostage by militants since the attacks, two officials confirmed.
Yemen’s al Qaeda movement has expanded its control over parts of the country in the past year, leading politicians to consider the option of dialogue with the militant network.