ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch deployed on Friday scores of its well-armed fighters across three southern towns in the country's troubled war-torn province of Abyan, residents told said.
"Numerous checkpoints were set up by al-Qaida gunmen across the roads in Abyan's towns of Lawder, Ahwar and the coastal town of Shuqra," the local residents confirmed to Xinhua by phone.
"Armored cars of the al-Qaida group were deployed around the government facilities and in the key entrances of Lawder town," the local residents said.
Las week, the UAE-backed Yemeni security forces withdrew from Abyan's towns after receiving several ambushes and repeated armed attacks by al-Qaida gunmen.
The al-Qaida gunmen detonated on Thursday three security buildings and two positions used by the UAE-backed Yemeni forces.
However, tribal sources told Xinhua that hundreds of local citizens were mobilized to confront al-Qaida gunmen and prepare for launching a military campaign against the terrorist group there.
Yemen's internationally recognized government that has based itself in the port city of Aden, 45 km away from Abyan, gave orders to some military units to kick al-Qaida militants out of the southern regions urgently.
The province of Abyan is strategically important due to its proximity to the port city of Aden, which houses ministers of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government after the capital Sanaa was militarily occupied by the Shiite Houthi group in September 2014.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional Al-Qaida insurgencies in the Middle East.
The Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as "Ansar al-Sharia," emerged in January 2009, claiming responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and governmental institutions.
The AQAP and the IS-linked terrorists took advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in southern Yemen.
Security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when war broke out between the Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.