Source: XINHUA | 2012-6-15 | ONLINE EDITION
ADEN, Yemen, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni warplanes killed at least five al-Qaida militants in an air strike conducted in southeastern Shabwa province on Friday, a security official said.
Some al-Qaida militants in a mountainous area in Shabwa province were pounded with three rockets, and at least five terrorists were killed and two others injured, the local security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
"Two senior al-Qaida commanders are believed to have been killed in the successful air strike," the security official added.
"We have seen five corpses on a pick-up truck, all of them burned. The injured were taken to an al-Qaida-run hospital in Azzan town in Shabwa," a local resident told Xinhua anonymously.
"Two groups of al-Qaida militants were hit from the air. Smokes could be seen rising after the air attack," he added.
No al-Qaida spokesperson was immediately available for comment.
The air bombing came just few hours after some troops backed by pro-government militiamen took control of Shakra, a coastal town on a major shipping route, which was captured by al-Qaida militants in mid-2011 amid a wave of unrest sweeping the country.
The al-Qaida militants left Shakra, some 50 km away from Zinjibar, Abyan's provincial capital, after the troops drove them out of two other cities in the province in a U.S.-backed offensive.
More than 20 al-Qaida militants, including six foreign nationals, were killed on Friday during an armed operation aiming to retake the coastal town of Shakra, an army commander said.
The country's defense ministry said the 119th and 201st army brigades as well as some troops from the elite Republican Guard forces were still pursuing the al-Qaida remnants across Abyan's mountainous regions.
The recent battles, aiming to recapture the Shakra town, one of the last remaining al-Qaida strongholds in Abyan, killed about 40 al-Qaida militants, the ministry said in a text message on Thursday night.
On Tuesday, the Yemeni armed forces took control of Jaar and Zinjibar, two major al-Qaida strongholds in Abyan that had been under al-Qaida control for more than a year.
The Yemeni government troops have waged an intensive military campaign last month, with the support of the United States and Yemen's oil-rich neighbor Saudi Arabia, to uproot the al-Qaida militants from the southern regions.