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Airstrike kills 3 suspected al-Qaida militants in central Yemen, says official

SANAA, Yemen — Three suspected al-Qaida Yemeni militants were killed in an airstrike that targeted their house on Saturday in the country’s central province of Marib, a security official said.

The official did not specify if it was a U.S. or Yemeni aircraft involved in the strike which hit the house in the Obeida Valley where the group has a strong presence.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

A website affiliated to Yemen’s al-Qaida branch also confirmed earlier reports that militants had killed 14 soldiers on Friday near the city of Shibam in the eastern Hadramawt province.

The website published pictures of the militants checking the IDs of the soldiers after ordering them out of a bus that was taking them to Sanaa for vacation from the city of Sayoun.

A statement issued by a media arm of al-Qaida Yemen’s offshoot said the militants took the soldiers to the main market in the ancient city of Shibam and told the people who gathered there that the soldiers will be killed because they took part in military campaigns against them.

Friday’s attack came after deadly clashes near Sayoun, where the Defense Ministry said army forces killed at least 25 al-Qaida militants over the past two days. The ministry said it has been sending reinforcements to the city after receiving information that al-Qaida is plotting the city’s takeover.

A senior army officer said al-Qaida militants have recalled a large number of its fighters to the main cities of Sayoun and al-Qatn with the intent of seizing Hadramawt province and that the government was also sending reinforcements to the province.

The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to brief the media.

Yemen has been grappling with an al-Qaida insurgency and receives counterterrorism training and assistance from Washington which considers Yemen’s al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula the most active branch of the group in the world.

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