Aden (ANTARA News/AFP) - At least 16 people, including women and children, were killed on Thursday in clashes in Yemen`s southern province of Abyan where Al-Qaeda and the army are battling for control of the restive territory.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a military official said six civilians, "three women, two children and one man, were killed in a Yemeni air raid on the town of Shuqra," one of the last remaining Al-Qaeda bastions in Abyan.

The official did not confirm the ages of the children killed during the raid in which the intended target was militant fighters.

Another 10 people were killed in Shuqra in fierce clashes between militants and the army, a local official said.

"Clashes using machineguns between Al-Qaeda militants and the army, backed by local militiamen, left two soldiers dead and 11 wounded," the official said on condition of anonymity.

He said eight jihadists were also killed in the fighting that began late on Wednesday.

Shuqra is the only town in Abyan besides Mahfad which the extremists still hold.

On Tuesday, the military drove the jihadists out of the provincial capital of Zinjibar and Jaar, with Al-Qaeda gunmen believed to have fled east to Shuqra.

On Wednesday, nine civilians were killed by landmines planted by militant fighters in Zinjibar, according to local official Mohsen Saleh.

On May 12, the Yemeni military launched an all-out offensive to recapture territory lost to the jihadists.

A total of 540 people have died in the campaign -- 402 Al-Qaeda militants, 78 soldiers, 26 militiamen and 34 civilians -- according to an AFP tally compiled from various sources.

Tuesday`s military victories came just hours before the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution threatening sanctions against groups seen as undermining Yemen`s political transition.

The main targets of Resolution 2051 are the family and supporters of Yemen`s ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, although they were not named in the text, diplomats in New York said.

Saleh has been accused by his opponents of allowing Al-Qaeda to take hold of large swathes of the country`s south and east, and of meddling in the new government`s affairs.

The resolution also backed President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who pledged to destroy Al-Qaeda when he was sworn in as Saleh`s successor in February. (*)

Editor: Kunto Wibisono
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