U.S. raid as al-Qaeda executes 15 Yemeni soldiers

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Yemeni soldiers man a checkpoint in al-Mahfad

While a drone strike on a house killed three al-Qaeda suspects, the group’s militants on Friday abducted and executed 15 Yemeni soldiers in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, a military official said.

Al-Qaeda militants on Friday abducted and executed 15 Yemeni soldiers in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, Agence France-Presse reported a military official as saying.

The latest bloodshed comes a day after 11 suspected al-Qaeda militants and four Yemeni soldiers were killed in attacks on two army posts in the restive province.

The soldiers were in a bus when they were ambushed “by an al-Qaeda commando unit” near the town of Shibam, said the official. The men were taken to the nearby village of Huta and executed, the official added.

The men were on leave when they came under attack, the official said, adding that the army had sent reinforcements to Huta in search of the perpetrators.

Residents said four of the soldiers had their throats slit and the others were shot.

Public execution

Before the public execution, the leader of the commando unit spoke to his men cheering them on before giving the order to kill the soldiers.

“It was a horrible massacre,” a resident, who would not give his name for fear of reprisals, told AFP. “We were horrified by such barbarous action.”

Friday’s attack is the latest in a line of assaults on the army in the Hadramawt region.

On Wednesday, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for many attacks on the army in the south and southeast of Yemen that have killed 20 soldiers.

Drone strike kills three

Meanwhile, a drone strike on a house killed three al-Qaeda suspects in the restive Yemeni province of Marib on Saturday, a security official told AFP.

The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but U.S. officials rarely acknowledge the covert program.

The strike “targeted a house in Marib… killing three Al-Qaeda militants and wounding two women,” the official in the south-central province told AFP.

No details were immediately available on the identities of the suspects.

In April, a U.S. and Yemeni aerial campaign in Yemen killed at least 68 al-Qaeda militants, as part of efforts to head off attacks by the jihadist network’s regional affiliate.

AQAP is considered by Washington as the most dangerous affiliate of the jihadist network.

The group is active across several parts of Yemen, taking advantage of a collapse of central authority during a 2011 uprising that ousted veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In late April, the army launched a ground offensive against AQAP in the southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan.

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