Yemen continues to fight back an al-Qaeda insurgency in the south of the country -- on Monday a joint force of government soldiers and local militiamen killed eight militants near Lawdar.

Lawdar, a town in the south-western portion of Yemen, has seen an increase in violence since President Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned amidst protests in February. Al Qaeda has thrived in the south over the past year and taken control of huge tracts of territory.

To combat the insurgency, tribal fighters and militias have joined the Yemeni regular army. Ali Aidah, a regional tribal spokesman told Yemen Online that the militants were killed as the result of an ambush in the Al-Arkoub area near Lawdar.

Seven soldiers were reportedly killed in the same battle.

On Sunday, the local al Qaeda group Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) in the town of Jaar released 73 Yemeni soldiers it had captured last month, Reuters reported. Jaar, which the militants have renamed the emirate of Waqar, is under the control of Ansar al-Sharia, and the group freed the prisoners for the sake of God after consulting with town elders.

Yemen’s new president, Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has vowed to continue to fight against al Qaeda, while the United States has increased its use of drone attacks in southern Yemen. Hadi also faces a separatist Shia rebellion in the north.