Ansar Al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda linked group, in Abyan has offered to release hostages including a Swiss woman in return for stopping the military offensive against its strongholds in Zinjibar and Jaar of Abyan, military sources have revealed.
The sources said the military leadership refused the offer, and warned Al-Qaeda militants against the life of the Saudi diplomat, Abdullah Al-Khalidi, and the Swiss teacher, Sylvia Abrahat.
It asked the militants to unconditionally release all civilians and troops held by the group, the sources added.
They said that delay of victory in Zinjibar and Jaar is attributed to difficulties on the ground, pointing out that large numbers of al-Qaeda snipers deployed in difficult terrain.
They anticipated that Zinjibar and Jaar will be completely cleansed from the militants within three days as a maximum.
Military sources said that the army killed dozens of militants on Saturday, indicating that most the killed were foreign nationals.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said four soldiers were killed and four others were wounded, citing that some areas of Zinjibar become free of the militants ant that large quantities of Al-Qaeda's weapons including gun machines and shells were taken over by the army.
Military sources said the army has advanced deep into Zinjibar, the town fell last year to al-Qaida as it took advantage of political turmoil to extend their control over much of the south.
According to a tally compiled by AFP, 332 people have been killed, including 242 Al-Qaeda fighters, 55 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 17 civilians since the offensive began.