ADEN, Yemen, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Three senior members of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch were killed Monday when warplanes struck their vehicle in the southern province of Abyan, a security official said.
The warplanes hit a vehicle carrying three commanders of the al- Qaida terrorist group while they were moving to oversee the fighting with army troops on the outskirts of Jaar, Abyan's second largest town, the local security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
"Their bodies were found inside the destroyed car," the security official said.
The army troops backed by pro-government militia continued to fight with al-Qaida militants and seized part of areas close to the insurgents-controlled town of Jaar, an army officer said.
"Now army soldiers are stationed about 2 km from the center of the town," the army officer said anonymously.
Up to 25 injured soldiers were taken to the neighboring province of Lahj for treatment, according to the army officer.
Local resident said, "Huge explosions are still rocking Jaar as army troops determined to eradicate al-Qaida's sites."
On the same day, a total of 33 al-Qaida militants and six army soldiers were killed during intensive clashes that took place in villages near Jaar town, a government official said.
The Yemeni government troops have stepped up military operations in Abyan in order to oust al-Qaida militants who have seized control of large swaths in the restive south during last year's political turmoil.
Government troops and reinforcements of counter-terrorism units assembled by the Yemeni military began last month offensives on al- Qaida bastions in Abyan, which made living conditions of thousands of displaced residents worsen.
Senior leaders of the Yemeni military, with support of U.S. counter-terrorism experts, have vowed to uproot the al-Qaida's regional bases from Yemen.