Violence in south Yemen on Thursday killed 30 people, of whom 25 were al-Qaeda fighters, including five in an air strike by the Yemeni air force, officials said.
The air raid struck the eastern outskirts of Jaar, a town in Abyan Province that is controlled by militants, a local official said.
Two other alleged al-Qaeda fighters were killed in fighting with militiamen belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees, who are fighting alongside the army, in the village of Batis, north of Jaar, the official said.
The clashes erupted when the militants attempted to return to the village which they controlled until they were chased out by the army last week.
Five more jihadists were killed in an ambush near Batis, the official added.
The ambush by pro-army militiamen was led by former al-Qaeda militant Abdullah al-Sayed, who -defected last year in protest at the presence of “foreigners” in the ranks of the Islamists group.
After the ambush, fierce fighting erupted between militants and the militiamen when the jihadists launched an evening assault on Batis, using shells and machine guns, causing more deaths, sources said.
“In all, 20 al-Qaeda militants were killed in Thursday’s military operations around Batis,” Abyan Province Deputy Governor Ghaleb al-Raghawi said.
The Yemeni Ministry of Defense confirmed that a total of 20 militants were killed on Thursday in violence around Batis alone.
Meanwhile, a local official said four militiamen and a woman were killed in fighting near Batis.
Yemeni forces launched an all-out offensive on May 12 aimed at reclaiming the Abyan provincial capital, Zinjibar, and other towns and cities seized by militants over the past year.