Two soldiers and 16 Al-Qaeda militants were killed on Tuesday in a Yemeni military offensive against the jihadists who are suspected of holding Western hostages, sources said.
"Sixteen Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in four raids when the Yemeni aviation targeted positions near Manaseh," a stronghold of the terror network in the province of Bayda, a tribal source said on condition of anonymity.
An official in the region reported the death of two soldiers in a car bomb explosion targeting an army position near the town of Radah, 30 kilometres (18 miles) to the west.
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A suicide car bomb at a checkpoint in the same area killed 11 soldiers and wounded 17 others on Monday, in an attack blamed on Al-Qaeda.
Another three people were killed in an army operation launched late on Sunday against Al-Qaeda-linked militants suspected of holding an Austrian and two Finns hostage in Manaseh, in Bayda province, tribal sources said.
The army is hunting three militants accused of holding the European hostages and who have refused to surrender despite mediation efforts.
The three men -- brothers of Tarek al-Dahab, an Al-Qaeda leader killed in a February 2012 attack -- deny they are holding the hostages.