ADEN, Yemen, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch seized a town on Saturday in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, local officials told Xinhua.
Dozens of the terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles swept into the coastal town of Radhoum, 30 km east of the al-Qaida-seized city of Azzan in Shabwa province and took full control of the region after throwing up a tightened security ring around the entrances of the town, a local official said on condition of anonymity.
"The al-Qaida fighters have raised their black flag over the local buildings and began handing out pamphlets calling for Jihad (holy war) against the supporters of Christianity, " the official said.
"A number of fake checkpoints were set up by the al-Qaida members in the city and many foreign militants are in the neighborhoods," he added.
The terrorists belong to the al-Qaida-linked Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), who have captured at least two other towns in the al-Qaida key stronghold of Shabwa, according to the official.
Witnesses told Xinhua anonymously that "some local residents are from the al-Qaida wing and accept the terrorists to enter their town without any resistance."
Al-Qaida militants who took advantage of the conflicts in the country have seized several towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces after severe fighting with government troops backed by U.S. drones.
In January 2009, al-Qaida affiliates in Saudi Arabia and Yemen officially merged and formed Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
The group, mainly entrenching itself in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.