ADEN - Yemeni troops fought Islamist militants in southern cities on Thursday, as the government pressed ahead with a US-backed offensive to help stabilize the impoverished Arab state that has turned into a base for al-Qaida.
Western and Gulf Arab countries have watched with mounting alarm as political crisis in Yemen gave al-Qaida the opportunity to develop a base from which to launch attacks around the world.
Insurgents in the south exploited mass protests last year against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory.
Army officials and residents said at least 33 militants were killed in heavy fighting on Thursday with the Yemeni army on the western outskirts of the city of Jaar, in southern Abyan province. Among the dead were a Somali and an Egyptian fighting with the insurgents, they said.