Ayad al-Shabwani, a leader of Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has been killed in fighting with the army, a military source said on Thursday.
Shabwani was killed on Tuesday in heavy fighting that continued into Wednesday between the army and suspected Al-Qaeda militants near Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, east of the main southern city Aden, the source said.
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The official Saba news agency had said earlier that "two prominent members of the Al-Qaeda leadership were killed ... in Abyan province," naming them as Ayad al-Shabwani and Awad Mohammed Saleh al-Shabwani.
Yemen had said before that Ayad al-Shabwani was killed, along with five other leaders, in a January 15 air strike on a convoy of vehicles. Three days later, AQAP denied that either Shabwani or the five others had been killed.
Militants believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda took over much of Zinjibar in late May, and have been battling security forces ever since, displacing thousands of residents.
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of veteran Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan on May 2.