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Suspected militants target base in southern Yemen

Suspected Islamists have attacked a military base in southern Yemen, killing a group of soldiers. The attack follows a presumed US drone strike that killed at least seven suspected militants in the city of Jaar.

Suspected Islamist militants breached multiple security checkpoints at a government military base in southern Yemen on Friday, detonating an explosives-laden car that killed at least 15 soldiers and wounded 29 others, according to Yemeni military officials.

The car bomb targeted the 115th brigade of the Yemeni army in the southern Abyan Governorate. The brigade's base is located in the town of Shaqra, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Abyan's capital, Zinjibar. Eight al Qaeda militants were also killed in the attack, Yemeni military officials said.

On Thursday, at least seven suspected Islamist militants were killed in a strike in the southwestern city of Jaar. The leader of al Qaeda in Jaar, Nadir al-Shadadi, also perished in that strike, according to Yemeni officials.

Local media reported that a US drone had launched the strike, while Yemen's Defense Ministry claimed that the army and tribal fighters were responsible for the attack.

US-backed government offensive

Abyan Governorate has been the site of fierce fighting this year between Yemen's US-backed central government and Islamist militants, in particular al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The militants wrested much of the south from governmental control amid the chaos of a popular uprising against long-time strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh ceded power to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in February under a transition plan sponsored by Washington and the Arab Gulf states.

The Hadi government launched an offensive against the militants in May with the support of US drone strikes, regaining control of Jaar and the capital Zinjibar.

slk/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)