Yemeni security forces, fighting a growing Islamist insurgency, said on Saturday that they detained four Somali men suspected of belonging to the al-Shabaab militant group near a site of an explosion that killed two.
Two men were killed in southern Yemen when a bomb they planned to use in an attack on government forces exploded accidentally late on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
There was no indication that the men were linked to the bomb plot, the statement said.
The al-Qaeda-allied Somali group had sent 300 armed men to fight alongside the Yemen-based wing of the militant network, it said. The four Somalis were captured on the road between the southern provinces of Lahej and Abyan.
The two dead men were identified by the ministry as Yasser and Muneef al-Hawi. The statement said they were killed in Abyan province’s Mudiyah district.
It gave no further details on whether the men were associated with Qaeda.
U.S. which had helped Yemen to quell Qaeda in the country is planning to restart programs that would fund military training and equipment in the country, nearly a year after they were shut down because of escalating chaos in the embattled country.
U.S. drone attacks killed at least 25 Qaeda-linked fighters on Saturday in southern Yemen, where militants have expanded their operations during a year of unrest that ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saturday’s operation was the biggest since Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month vowing to fight Qaeda.
Thirty-four Qaeda militants were also killed in a Yemeni air force raid on Friday in al-Bayda, the governor of the southern province was cited as saying by the defense ministry on Sunday. The death toll had previously been put at 20 militants.
The governor said two Pakistanis, two Saudi nationals, and one Syrian and one Iraqi were among the dead. Four of the men killed were senior militant commanders, he said, without giving further details of their identity.
Ansar al-Sharia, Qaeda-linked militant group based in southern Yemen, has exploited a year of anti-government protests that have severely weakened central government control over parts of the country to seize several towns in the south, notably in Abyan province.