Sanaa: Al-Qaeda fighters Thursday seized control of two towns in the central Yemeni province of Eb, one of their strongholds, killing at least four policemen and capturing nine others.
Security sources told Efe news agency the extremists killed the policemen after taking the town of Odein, where there were no Yemeni troops.
The gunmen raided a bank and several currency exchange offices in the same area, seizing around $200,000.
The extremists also gained control over the town of Hazm al-Odein, from where security forces had fled following reports of what happened in Odein.
The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known locally as Ansar al-Sharia, one of Al Qaeda’s military wings in Yemen, said in a statement that government forces had suffered casualties during the attacks in Eb, without giving more details.
The assaults came a day after the fall of the city of Eb in the hands of Houthi Shia rebels, who have made inroads in other areas of Yemen over the past weeks.
Al Qaeda has targeted the Houthis since the latter captured government buildings in the capital, Sanaa, Sep 21.
According to a Xinhua report earlier Wednesday, three Yemeni soldiers were among those killed Thursday when suspected Al Qaeda militants launched attacks in the southern province of Abyan and the town of Odein.
The three soldiers were killed when suspected Al Qaeda militants shelled their armoured vehicle in the southern province of Abyan, a government official told Xinhua.
“The Al Qaeda suspects shelled the armoured vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing three soldiers and injuring two others on the spot,” a local government official said on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, the US said it was offering rewards totalling $45 million for information about eight key leaders of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Yemeni military officials have blamed militants of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda offshoot for a series of assassinations and armed attacks, mostly in the country’s southern regions.
The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is considered one of the greatest threats to the Yemeni government and neighbouring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.