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Al-Qaida regains control over coastal city in south Yemen: officials

(Xinhua)

09:59, August 18, 2011

SANAA, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Militants of the Yemen-based al- Qaida wing Wednesday regained control of the country's strategic coastal city of Shaqra in southern Abyan province after days of fierce battles against government troops, a provincial security official said.

"Militants of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) reseized the coastal city of Shaqra following days of fighting with the government troops," security official Hameed Ali told Xinhua.

"The city was cleansed from the militants in July by the troops, who then set tighten siege around the militants' key stronghold of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, which AQAP took over late in May," he added.

Difficulties of communication with the army in the nearby area obstructed information about casualties of the clashes, said the official.

The AQAP is known locally as "supporters of the Islamic Law." An intelligence official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity " the al-Qaida group has killed over 300 soldiers in the past two weeks and seized 40 petrol barrels provided by the stationed army. "

Shaqra is the third town seized by al-Qaida in Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, after the terrorist group took control of Zinjibar and Jaar city of the province late in May.

A tribal official in the area told Xinhua by phone the al-Qaida group is planning to take more cities in Abyan and Shabwa despite the fierce crackdown by the Yemeni army forces and U.S. continuing air strikes."

"We have also learned that the media of the AQAP is filming an interview with the wanted U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a village in Shabwa province, and will post it on internet next month," said the tribesman, who asked to remain unidentified.

Shabwa, some 458 km southeast of the capital Sanaa, is the homeland of the cleric al-Awlaki and a stronghold of hundreds of al-Qaida leaders.

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