Yemen air force strikes Qaeda targets in south
AFP, Thursday 15 May 2014

Yemeni warplanes on Thursday targeted Al-Qaeda positions in the southern province of Shabwa, causing "huge losses", as part of an offensive launched in late April, a military spokesman said.

The spokesman, quoted by official news agency Saba, said the raids on Al-Qaeda militants inflicted "huge losses in human life and armaments".

The warplanes struck Al-Qaeda positions in Azzan, Jul al-Rida and Al-Saeed, south of the town of Ataq, and residents fled the region, a military source told AFP.

On Wednesday, suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen launched deadly counter-attacks on two army positions in Jul al-Rida and Azzan, which the military said it retook from militants a week ago.

The army says it has inflicted heavy losses on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), seen by the US as the network's deadliest franchise, since it launched its offensive on April 29.

The campaign is focused on Shabwa and Abyan, another southern province.

AQAP took advantage of a 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of southern and eastern Yemen.

The army recaptured several major towns in 2012 but has struggled to reassert control in rural areas.