ADEN  - Yemeni troops launched an all-out offensive on Saturday to retake the southern city of Zinjibar, held for a year by Al-Qaeda gunmen, in fighting that killed 12 people, military and local sources said. The “wide offensive” began from three sides and is supported by the air force and the navy,” said a military official, adding that Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed is supervising the operation from nearby. “The defence minister is supervising a military plan to regain control of the city of Zinjibar and (the neighbouring town of) Jaar from Al-Qaeda gunmen,” the official said.

Two soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in the fighting, while 12 others were wounded, he said.

Six fighters of the Al-Qaeda-linked Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), were also killed in the attack, said a tribal source in Jaar, to where the gunmen evacuate their casualties.

The militants took control of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, last May. They also control Jaar and other parts of the province.