Fighting around the city of Lawdar in Abyan province continued for the third day straight, and Yemeni military officials claimed to have dealt al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula heavy losses. Saba Net, a Yemeni state-run news service claimed, based on a report from 26September.net, a Defense Ministry website, that dozens of al Qaeda fighters, including two commanders and foreigners, were among those killed:
“A number of al-Qaeda leaders and militants, including Saudis, Somalis and Pakistanis were killed in the last hours fighting”, the source said, adding that the armed forces shelled “Zara” area and air strikes targeted a gathering of al-Qaeda in the area of “Um Ain”.
Abyan’s tribesmen battled al-Qaeda in Lawder outskirts killing two senior members Dardish Ahmed Mohammed Taher and Imad al-Manshaby, a field leader, and ten other elements, he said.
About 15 tribesmen were also killed in the clashes, according to the source.
The Associated Press put the number of killed in Lawdar today at 28 AQAP fighters and three tribesmen. The death toll in Lawdar is quickly approaching 200; the Yemeni military claims that most of those killed are AQAP fighters. Dozens of Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen have also reportedly been killed [see Threat Matrix report, AQAP, Yemeni forces battle in south].
Saudis are known to fight in Yemen, as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the fruit of the union of al Qaeda’s Saudi and Yemeni branches. Some of AQAP’s top leaders, including Said al Shihri, the second in command, are Saudis. Somalis from Shabaab are also routinely reported to be fighting alongside AQAP in the south. And Pakistanis are reported to have fought in Yemen as well. AQAP has had success in southern Yemen, and this tends to attract foreign fighters to the ranks.
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