Yemeni forces kill Al Qaeda militants

Sanaa, Aug 7 (IANS): Seven suspected Al Qaeda militants were killed in clashes with army troops in Yemen's southeastern province of Hadramout Thursday morning, the country's defence ministry said.

"Army soldiers have killed seven gunmen belonging to Al Qaeda elements in a checkpoint near the headquarters of the 1st Regional Military Command in Hadramout province after an exchange of gunfire with several attackers," the defence ministry said in a short text message obtained by Xinhua.

"The Al Qaeda gunmen tried to take control over the military's regional headquarters, but the army personnel have successfully managed to defend the base and killed those terrorists," the statement said.

A Yemeni army officer and two soldiers were injured in the gunfight, a security official said.

Yemen's army later arrested four suspected Al Qaeda gunmen who had participated in the attack on the military base, a security source told Xinhua over phone on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, suspected Al Qaeda gunmen launched two coordinated attacks and blew up several government offices and banks in the Qattan region of Hadramout province Thursday, according to local residents.

On Wednesday, a Yemeni official announced that scores of Al Qaeda gunmen clashed with army units of the 135th Armoured Brigade near Seiyun town of Hadramout province, leaving at least 20 terrorists dead on the spot.

Since April, the Yemeni government has waged a major offensive on Al Qaeda strongholds in the country's southern territories, killing scores of militants. The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Yemen has vowed to hit back.

The AQAP, also known locally as Ansar al-Sharia, emerged in January 2009 and is considered one of the greatest threats to the Yemeni government and neighbouring oil-rich Saudi Arabia. 


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