ADEN, July 25 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda-linked militants attacked
a village in south Yemen on Wednesday, fighting to regain
control of territory for the first time since they were driven
from their strongholds in a U.S.-backed army offensive last
The head of a local militia said his fighters had managed to
repel the militants, killing two of them in clashes in the
village of Batias in the province of Abyan, where armed
Islamists established a foothold last year.
Wednesday's attack highlighted the enduring threat of
Islamist militancy in Yemen and may alarm the United States and
Saudi Arabia, who increasingly view the impoverished state as a
front line in their war on al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Militants went on a rampage in Abyan last year, seizing
several towns and imposing sharia (Islamic law) while
then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh grappled with mass protests
that that eventually toppled him.
Washington supported a Yemeni army campaign that was hailed
as a major victory after the area was "liberated" from Islamist
fighters in June. But residents and analysts say the militants
are simply lying low and waiting for a chance to regroup.
Despite losing their territorial base, militants have since
shown their clout remains formidable, assassinating a top
southern military commander and killing 10 people in a suicide
bombing at a police academy in the capital Sanaa.
On Tuesday, two militants were killed in the southeastern
port city of Mukalla when an explosive device they were
preparing to use against local security officials went off by
accident, a local official said.
(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Isabel Coles;
Editing by Mark Heinrich)