A full day of fighting in the Shabwa Province town of Azzan has left at least 42 people dead, including 12 government soldiers and 30 fighters believed to be loyal to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The Yemeni Defense Ministry says AQAP surprised troops in Azzan, surrounding a military outpost in the area, and made an attempt to reclaim the town, which had been under their control prior to an offensive earlier this month.
Military forces on loudspeakers ordered the population of the town to leave, and warned them against providing any aid to AQAP. A considerable exodus from town was reported after the military’s demands.
AQAP and its allied factions have held parts of southern Yemen off and on since 2011, when they had control over the entire Abyan Province. Though the group has never again taken such a large swath of territory, they have continued to contest control in multiple provinces across Yemen’s south and east.