ADEN (Yemen) - Yemeni troops seized control of an Al-Qaeda munitions factory in the southern Abyan province on Monday as battles for control of the restive region killed 26 militants, local and military officials said.
The bodies of 12 militants were discovered inside the factory which lies on the outskirts of the Al-Qaeda stronghold of Jaar, a military official said on condition of anonymity.
A Yemeni air raid on Al-Qaeda positions in Jaar meanwhile killed six jihadists, a local official said.
In the nearby town of Shaqra, where many of the local Al-Qaeda leadership is believed to be hiding, fierce clashes between troops and militants killed eight militants, a military official said.
Five soldiers were also wounded in the battles, the official added on condition of anonymity.
Yemeni forces launched an all-out offensive on May 12 aimed at reclaiming towns and cities lost to Al-Qaeda during the past year, including Abyan's capital Zinjibar.
Since the beginning of the attack, 483 people have been killed, according to a tally combined from different sources. This includes 368 Al-Qaeda militants, 70 soldiers, 26 local armed men, and 19 civilians.
The military's month-old offensive has cut off supplies of food and medicine and forced thousands to flee their homes, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.
Concerned about the humanitarian and security crisis in Yemen, Gulf Arab states and the West pledged more than $4 billion in aid to the impoverished state last month.
Separately, a Saudi Arabian national, Nasser Abdulaziz al-Mahiri, who was kidnapped six months ago by tribesmen in north Yemen, was released on Sunday after tribal mediation, Yemen's state news agency Saba said on its website.
Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where hostages are often used by disgruntled tribesmen to press demands on authorities.
A Saudi diplomat kidnapped in March by al Qaeda-linked militants in southern Yemen is still being held. Saudi officials said the group's demands included the release of their comrades held in Saudi Arabia.