At least eight Yemeni soldiers and 10 al-Qaida militants were killed in clashes on Wednesday when insurgents attacked two military posts in a southern province where a government offensive began two weeks ago, military sources said.
The sources told Reuters the fighting in Gol al-Rayda and Azzan districts of Shabwa province started early in the morning and lasted several hours.
An army colonel was among the dead, a Defense Ministry source said.
The Yemeni army had captured both Gol al-Rayda and Azzan, as well as the Mahfad district in Abyan province, earlier this month after heavy fighting that killed scores on both sides.
Many of the militants fled to the mountains and turned into hit-and-run tactics against security forces and government facilities across the country.
Military sources in the field said that in Wednesday's fighting, the army forced the militants to retreat, and they took with them the bodies of their dead or wounded.
Five militant vehicles were destroyed, the Defense Ministry said. Government forces also captured a number of the militants in Azzan, who were found in possession of “documents, bombs and explosives belts”, it said.