Al Qaeda-linked militants continue to contest local control over territory in Abyan in south Yemen. The militants hold the governorate’s capital, Zinjibar, and towns along major transportation routes. The Yemeni military and cooperating tribes have been unable to defeat the militants.
Fierce fighting broke out in Abyan, after al Qaeda-linked militants attacked the camp of the 201st brigade Tuesday morning. The fighting has been concentrated in Dofes, but is occurring in eight other areas, including Jaar, al Arqub, and Masameer district. Casualty counts vary, but at least twelve Yemeni soldiers have been killed and over forty others injured since the fighting began. Six al Qaeda-linked militants were killed in al Arqub. Yemeni sources report that at least 17 militants were killed outside of Zinjibar in Dofes. Yesterday, reports said that thirty militants were killed, including a Saudi, Abu Bakr, reportedly the local head of al Qaeda, and forty others were wounded.
Somali fighters arrived in Shaqra, according to local reports. An estimated 400 fighters, believed to be members of al Shabaab entered the recently seized town, where al Qaeda militants have begun to gather. Tribesmen have confirmed that six of their fighters were injured when a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in Shaqra.
A resolution to the political crisis in the capital will not end the fragmentation of the Yemeni state, which remains at risk of a broader armed conflict. The current situation has increased al Qaeda's operating space in Yemen.