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Al-Qaeda militants have killed two soldiers in Yemen's Abyan province, prompting troops to shell jihadist positions and kill nine extremists, military and local sources said Saturday.
"Al-Qaeda militants opened machine gun fire on an army post on the western outskirts of Jaar," an Al-Qaeda stronghold the army has been trying to retake since last month, "killing two soldiers and wounding four others," a military official said.
Troops responded to the late Friday assault by shelling Al-Qaeda positions on Jaar outskirts killing "several militants," the official told AFP.
A source in Jaar confirmed the shelling saying "we have buried nine Al-Qaeda militants in the town's cemetery," adding that five other jihadists were also wounded.
Yemeni forces launched an all-out offensive on May 12 aimed at reclaiming towns and cities lost to Al-Qaeda during the past year, including Abyan's capital Zinjibar.
Since the beginning of the attack, 457 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally combined from different sources. This includes 342 Al-Qaeda militants, 70 soldiers, 26 local armed men, and 19 civilians.