Source: AFP, 19/10/2010
ADEN, Yemen — Yemeni troops are fighting a guerrilla war against Al-Qaeda in southern towns in which they are struggling to come to terms with the hit-and-run tactics of the enemy, a commander said on Tuesday.
"We are engaged in what amounts to a guerrilla war with Al-Qaeda in the streets and neighbourhoods," the deputy head of security in the Abyan province town of Mudia, Colonel Mohammed al-Khodr, told AFP.
"So far we have not managed to win the battle and are facing difficulties as most of the fighters are drawn from among the towns' residents," Khodr said.
"Al-Qaeda militants have been using hit-and-run tactics and infiltrating neighbourhoods of the towns (of Mudia and Loder) from the surrounding mountains to carry out attacks on military posts," he added.
Tuesday afternoon, fighter jets fired four missiles on Thououba, a near Mudia, witnesses told AFP.
A security official confirmed the raid, with authorities saying alleged Al-Qaeda leader Abdul Monem al-Fahtani is hiding there.
This is the third raid in the past three days against villages located in the same region.
On Sunday, the military launched air strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda positions in the mountains outside Mudia, killing one civilian and wounding two, medical and security sources said.
Since Thursday, at least a dozen people have been killed in violence blamed on Al-Qaeda around the two towns, which have also seen repeated protests in recent months by supporters of the Southern Movement, a coalition of groups seeking autonomy or independence for the region.
On Monday evening, militants wounded three soldiers in an attack on a tanker truck outside Loder, a security source said.
Militants also fired seven shells from the town centre at an army post in a northern neighbourhood, the source said, adding that dozens of civilians were fleeing Loder for the Abyan provincial capital Zinjibar.
The United States has stepped up its military assistance to Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in the face of fears that it has become a major base for the network's operations