Al-Qaeda fighters were fleeing the embattled city of Loder in southern Yemen following clashes with government forces in which dozens have died, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. In the latest clash, "four Al-Qaeda members were killed while the rest fled after evacuating their injured," a ministry statement said, according to AFP.
"The chiefs of the terrorist elements have started to flee" Loder, the ministry said.
Civilians had moved out of the of the city in the Abyan province following an army siege after clashes which started on Friday. An army search of homes where the al Qaeda fighters were barricaded had found huge quantities of weapons, including rockets and anti-tank weapons, the ministry said.
At least 33 people, among them 11 troops, 19 al Qaeda fighters and three civilians, have been killed since the clashes erupted. Authorities said Adel Saleh Hardaba, 27, whom they described as the Al-Qaeda second-in-command in Loder, was among the dead.