ADEN - The Yemeni army has retaken the southern town of Jaar from al-Qaida-linked militants after heavy fighting that killed at least 24 people, the Yemeni Defense Ministry and residents said on Tuesday.

Yemen, in a US-backed offensive, is battling to retake territory in the southern province of Abyan, seized by militants last year during a popular uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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The army said the remaining militants fled the town.