ADEN, Yemen, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni fighter jets launched two air strikes on a suspected gathering of al-Qaida militants in the southern province of Abyan on Friday evening, a military official told Xinhua.
The warplanes bombed an al-Qaida hideout in the Mahfad mountain area in Abyan province, but it was not immediately clear whether there were casualties from the air bombing, the local military official said on condition of anonymity.
"Around six bombs were dropped by military planes on a gathering of al-Qaida militants in a mountainous area in Abyan," the military source said.
However, local residents told Xinhua anonymously that four al- Qaida militants were killed and several others were critically injured in the aerial attack.
"Two Yemeni fighter jets fired several rockets at an al-Qaida base in Mahfad area. There were lots of people either killed or injured," one of the local residents who lives nearby said.
A source close to the al-Qaida militants confirmed the bombing in Abyan.
In January 2009, al-Qaida affiliates in Saudi Arabia and Yemen officially merged and formed Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP). 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 national security.
The AQAP underscores the challenges faced by Yemen's new President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who won support from major Yemeni political forces, the United States and Saudi Arabia. Hadi is tasked with restoring security and stability to Yemen and putting an end to growing influence of al-Qaida that threatens daily oil shipping routes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.