Yemeni military officials and witnesses say ground troops have advanced on the provincial capital of Abyan province with heavy clashes that killed 19 al-Qaida-linked militants.
The officials said Thursday the troops seized a neighborhood in southeast Zinjibar during the first ground operation in the al-Qaida stronghold since the summer. The Defense ministry in a statement said 19 militants were killed.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the operation was still under way.
The military has been waging a wide offensive against militant positions in southern Yemen. Al-Qaida militants have been trying to regain control Lawder, a town north of Zinjibar, after residents chased them out last summer.