Last Updated: Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:01 pm (KSA) 09:01 am (GMT)

Al-Qaeda gunmen kill eight Yemeni soldiers in latest string of attacks

Tuesday’s attack is the latest in a deadly week of battles between Yemeni security forces and al-Qaeda linked militants. (AP)
Tuesday’s attack is the latest in a deadly week of battles between Yemeni security forces and al-Qaeda linked militants. (AP)

Al-Qaeda militants killed eight Yemeni soldiers and left at least four others wounded in an attack on a make-shift military post on a desert road in the country’s mostly lawless eastern provinces on Tuesday, a security official said.

“Al-Qaeda militants attacked a military position on the road between Hadramawt and Marib province (in the east), killing eight soldiers,” the official told AFP news agency requesting anonymity.

Al-Qaeda gunmen attacked the soldiers just after dawn with “automatic weapons,” the official added.

The attack is the latest in a deadly week of battles between Yemeni security forces and al-Qaeda linked militants that have strengthened their presence in the country’s south and east in the wake of the year-long uprising that eventually toppled former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

On Monday, at least 57 people were killed when fighters from an al-Qaeda-linked group attacked a military camp near the southern city of Lawdar, residents and local officials said.

The fighting started at dawn when militants from Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) attacked the camp in Abyan province, about 120 km (75 miles) from southern port city Aden.

The group seized control of a significant amount of territory in Abyan during the turmoil that led to the replacement of Saleh by his deputy, a deal that Saudi Arabia and the United States hope will prevent al Qaeda from getting a foothold near key oil shipping routes.

Conflict with Islamists in the south is only one of several challenges facing new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office vowing to fight al-Qaeda, only to have more than 100 soldiers killed in attacks during his first few days in power.

Twenty seven fighters were killed in Monday’s clash with the army and five when warplanes bombed a checkpoint they were holding, officials and residents said. Eighteen soldiers, an army colonel, and six pro-government tribesmen were also killed.

The attack on Lawdar followed a series of air strikes that killed 24 suspected al-Qaeda militants in their southern and eastern strongholds.

The city of Lawdar is located some 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Zinjibar, the Abyan provincial capital which the al-Qaeda linked Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) militants overran in May last year.

Al-Qaeda briefly overran Loder in August 2010 before being driven out by the army.

The United States considers the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the most deadly and active branch of the global terror network.

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