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Fierce clashes rage in Abyan

May 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM

SANAA, Yemen, May 20 (UPI) -- Yemeni armed forces are battling for control a week into the strike against al-Qaida in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, officials said.

Officials told CNN on Sunday clashes around the district of Jaar led to the death of 14 terror militants and 7 soldiers.

Jaar residents said al-Qaida fighters gathered back in the town after a warning of coming air raids was issued by the Yemeni army. "A deadline was given to al-Qaida in Jaar to surrender," a senior security official in Abyan told CNN.

In Lawdar local residents celebrated their victory against al-Qaida after the armed forces backed by tribal fighters freed the city following a year of Islamist occupation, CNN reported.

"Our lands are free again and the ghost of al-Qaida is weaker than we thought. They ran away degraded from Lawdar and we will follow them until they leave the entire province," said Nasser Abdul Moqhni, a tribal fighter.

Security officials said more than 90 al-Qaida fighters died over the past week, CNN reported.

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