AT LEAST eight Yemeni soldiers and 10 al Qaeda militants have been killed in clashes after insurgents attacked two military posts in a southern province where a government offensive began two weeks ago.

Military sources said fighting in the Gol al-Rayda and Azzan districts of Shabwa province started early in the morning and lasted several hours. An army colonel was among the dead. The Yemeni army had captured both Gol al-Rayda and Azzan, as well as the Mahfad district in Abyan province, earlier this month after heavy fighting that killed scores on both sides.

Many of the militants fled to the mountains and turned into hit-and-run tactics against security forces and government facilities across the country.

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Five militant vehicles were destroyed and Government forces also captured a number of militants in Azzan who were found with bombs and explosives belts.