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Yemeni soldiers killed

August 9, 2014

Al Qaeda militants have executed at least 14 Yemeni soldiers in what has been described as an "act of revenge" for a recent army offensive. The killings come after recent deadly clashes in the region.

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Military officials said the soldiers were on a public bus traveling to the capital Sanaa on Friday when they were abducted "by an al Qaeda commando unit."

Officials said the bodies of the 14 soldiers were later found riddled with bullets near the town of Shibam.

The group was on leave after serving in the troubled southeastern province of Hadramawt.

"It looks as if it was an act of revenge," an official in the area told Reuters.

The Yemeni army has recently boosted troop numbers in the province in an attempt to stop local al Qaeda affiliate group Ansar al-Sharia, also known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), taking over cities and towns.

Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack in an online post late Friday, according to Reuters.

"The mujahideen ordered the soldiers down from the bus, interrogated them, and checked their military IDs and that they belonged to contingents based in Sayoun… and thus the mujahideen decided to kill them as a punishment for their crimes," the group said in a news report posted online cited by the news agency.

Reprisal killings

Friday's attack follows clashes near Sayoun, in which army forces killed at least 25 al Qaeda militants over the past week.

The United States sees AQAP as one of the most dangerous affiliates of the al Qaeda network, and has carried out drone strikes on suspected militant targets while backing the Yemeni army in an ongoing campaign against jihadists in the country's south east.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, descended into political turmoil after former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted in an uprising in 2011. AQAP have taken advantage of the instability to try and consolidate its control over cities and towns.

nm/tj (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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