Yemen has launched a wide-scale offensive against al Qaeda in the country's southeastern province, a government official said Tuesday.
The Yemeni government "dispatched forces backed by heavy weaponry, jets and choppers to surround a mountainous area," said the official, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The official said the offensive was in response to a militant attack last week on a pipeline carrying liquefied natural gas. The official described the multibillion-dollar pipeline as a "lifeline of the region."
The official added that militants have occupied homes and barricaded themselves in. He challenged claims that 80,000 people had been displaced.