World Bulletin/News Desk
Five hundred militants and 40 soldiers have been killed since the military launched an offensive against the group in April, Yemeni army spokesman, Colonel Saeed al-Faquih, told a news conference on Thursday.
Yemen's military mounted a campaign in the south of the country to try to crush Al Qaida, and in response the militants have stepped up attacks on government facilities after being driven out of strongholds in the southern Shabwa and Abyan provinces.
They have fled to the desert and the mountains from where they have been attacking army and government targets.
"I want to stress that the military operations will also include the areas where some militants have fled and where sabotage is taking place, which is the other face of terrorism," Faquih said, noting that there were preparations taking place in Maarib province for a major assault.
As well as those killed, 39 suspected militants were under arrest, he said.
Fourteen killed in checkpoint attack
Separately, fourteen people were killed when militants opened fire at a military checkpoint in Yemen's southern Shabwa province, the interior ministry said on Thursday.
The gunmen attacked the army checkpoint in the city of Bayhan with machine guns at dawn while most of the soldiers were sleeping and fled the scene after setting fire to two army vehicles, a local official told Reuters.
The official had earlier placed the death toll at 12 soldiers but a text message sent by the interior ministry's website raised it to 14, including eight soldiers and six government-allied tribesmen.
Yemen has been in turmoil since 2011, when mass protests forced long-ruling president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
As well as the al Qaeda threat, the country faces challenges from separatists in the south and an emboldened Shi'ite tribal militia trying to cement its control of the northern highlands.Last Mod: 05 Haziran 2014, 13:07