ADEN, Yemen — Yemeni air strikes targeting suspected Al-Qaeda militants near Jaar killed two civilians and wounded three, an official from the militant-held southern town said on Sunday.


"Military aircraft carried out a number of strikes yesterday (Saturday) in the Al-Makhzan area at the entrance of Jaar," the official told AFP in the main southern city of Aden without elaborating on how he got the information.

"One of them hit the house of Omar Hassan, killing him and wounding three others."

Another civilian was killed in a separate strike, the official added.

The strikes targeted a building that formerly housed Chinese doctors but is now controlled by the militants, the official said.

Jaar lies in Abyan province, north of the provincial capital Zinjibar, where Yemeni forces have been engaged in heavy fighting with suspected Al-Qaeda fighters.

A commander said on Saturday that 50 Yemeni troops have been posted as missing after clashes with Islamist militants around Zinjibar.

"We have lost all trace of 50 soldiers after an attack by Al-Qaeda elements enabled them to recapture control of the Al-Wahda stadium" outside Zinjibar, the commander serving with the 25th Mechanised Brigade told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He was unable to specify whether the troops had been killed, captured or deserted in the battle for the stadium which the army had recaptured from the militants only Friday.

The commander accused the defence ministry of abandoning the brigade's soldiers to their fate in the face of repeated attacks by the militants of the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic Law) movement who seized much of Zinjibar in late May.

The Sanaa government says the militants are allied with Al-Qaeda but the opposition accuses it of playing up a jihadist threat in a desperate attempt to keep embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power.