Suspected Al Qaeda militants killed 10 soldiers when they ambushed them on a road in southern Yemen, a region in which the jihadist network has a stronghold, a military official said on Thursday.
The gunmen opened fire on the vehicle in which the soldiers were travelling on Wednesday north of the city of Loder, in Abyan province, killing them all except the driver.
A witness said he saw three armed men shoot at the soldiers, adding that they prevented people from carrying away the soldiers’ bodies. They did allow the driver to be taken to a hospital.
An official at the hospital confirmed that the wounded driver was admitted to the facility, which also received the bodies of the 10 soldiers after the attackers left the scene of the shooting.
Supporters of Al Qaeda have strengthened their grip on southern Yemen since a wave of popular protests erupted in late January against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Militants of the Partisans of Sharia movement seized control of most of the southern city of Zinjibar, near Loder, on May 29, and Yemeni security forces have been engaged in heavy fighting with them since.
The Sana’a government says the militants are allied with Al Qaeda, but the opposition accuses it of playing up a jihadist threat in a desperate attempt to keep President Saleh in power.