SANAA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni troops killed 45 al-Qaida militants on Wednesday during battles in the southern province of Abyan, the defense ministry said.
"The armed forces advanced across Lauder town and al-Koud area on Wednesday, killing a total of 45 militants, as the troops, backed by local tribesmen, intensified attacks on the terrorist elements in Dovas and al-Harour regions," the ministry said in a statement on its website.
Meanwhile, a military official in the southern port city of Aden told Xinhua anonymously that 15 soldiers were killed earlier Wednesday in battles around Yasouf Mountain, a strategic mountain overlooking Lauder town that has been captured by the troops on Tuesday after heavy fighting with al-Qaida fighters.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed to launch an all- out war against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Earlier in the day, military officials said at least 16 terrorists were killed and five others wounded in air raids in Lauder, where AQAP militants have been fighting local tribesmen and the government forces for weeks in bid to seize the town.
Yemeni local human rights groups urged all sides to rapidly evacuate civilians from the war areas after eight civilians were killed in a botched air strike on Tuesday.
According to the defense ministry, more than 160,000 persons have so far arrived in camps in neighboring provinces of Aden and Lahj, fleeing their homes in Abyan after battles raged a few days ago.
Recently, U.S. drones have carried out more strikes in Yemen, particularly in the southern regions seized by al-Qaida. The group has tried to tighten its grip by exploiting the unrest and security disorders in Yemen.
Hadi took office in February, pledging to carry out reforms during his two-year transitional term, launch a national dialogue, and combat the resurgent al-Qaida off-shoot.
However, Hadi faced challenges from some political forces which refused to participate in the reconciliation dialogue that aims to restore security in the country.