ADEN, Yemen, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Clashes between the Yemeni troops and al-Qaida militants erupted on Monday in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, leaving 15 people killed, a government official told Xinhua.
Dozens of the al-Qaida militants launched large-scale attacks on army barracks of the 111th Armored Brigade positioned on the outskirts of Lauder town, about 150 km northeast of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, sparking three-hour clashes that left up to 15 people killed, the local government official said on condition of anonymity.
The pro-government tribal fighters joined the battle and managed to foil the al-Qaida attack, forcing them out of Lauder's neighboring areas, the official said.
About 10 terrorists and five soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in Monday's battles, the official added.
Local residents told Xinhua anonymously that Yemeni warplanes launched air strikes on Monday against al-Qaida hideouts near Lauder town, with no immediate reports of casualties.
Hundreds of people have been killed since pro-government tribal forces stepped up attacks on the al-Qaida militants who assaulted several army barracks near Lauder town earlier this month.
On Sunday, the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch freed 73 army soldiers it captured in fighting against a military base on the outskirts of Abyan province last month, after mediation by religious scholars and tribal leaders.
"After the meeting with the tribal figures, Nasir Al-Wuhayshi ( leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch) ordered the release of the 73 captive soldiers in response to the soldiers families' appeals," the terrorist group said in a statement obtained by Xinhua.
The al-Qaida militants, taking advantage of the country's political turmoil, have controlled vast areas in Yemen's restive southern regions and recently increased armed attacks and suicide operations against government troops.