ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - At least eight al Qaeda-linked fighters were killed in Yemen on Thursday, officials and tribal sources said, as a government offensive against Islamist insurgents entered its fourth day.
Residents and officials said three strikes by Yemeni warplanes on areas controlled by militant group Ansar al-Sharia killed at least six fighters near the southern town of Lawdar.
One strike hit an army tank that had been captured by the militants on Monday, killing everyone inside it, the sources said. Two more air strikes targeted posts held by militants but no casualties were reported.
Two militants were also killed in clashes with army-backed tribesmen who have tried to stop a group of armed men from Ansar al-Sharia joining forces with militants in Lawdar, said a local official in the city of Mudiyah, 15 km (10 miles) to the east. One tribeaman died in the fighting.
Reeling from a year of political upheaval that eventually unseated former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen is grappling with militants who have been exploiting weakened central government control to expand their influence, particularly in the country's south.
At least 150 people have been killed in fighting and airstrikes since Monday.
(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by John Stonestreet)