Yemen govt forces kill 13 Islamist militants in former Qaeda bastion

AFP , Sunday 22 May 2016

Yemeni government forces backed by Saudi-led coalition aircraft killed 13 suspected jihadists in two overnight raids near the former Al-Qaeda stronghold of Mukalla, a security official said on Sunday.

Three soldiers also died in the raids on suspected Al-Qaeda hideouts east of the port city of some 200,000 people that pro-government forces recaptured last month, the official said.

Nine troops were wounded in the assaults in the Rukob and Bowaish districts outside the Hadramawt province capital. Two militants were captured.

Apache helicopters of the coalition that intervened in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in March last year took part in the raids.

Last month, Hadi loyalists backed by Emirati and Saudi special forces drove Al-Qaeda out of Mukalla and the port city of Shihr further east, ending a year of jihadist rule.

But since then there has been a spate of attacks on security forces, many of them suicide bombings, claimed by Al-Qaeda or its jihadist rival the Islamic State group.

Despite its loss of Mukalla and the Indian Ocean coast, Al-Qaeda retains a strong presence in the province and still controls several towns in the interior valley of Wadi Hadramawt.

Washington regards Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch as its most dangerous and has stepped up a longstanding drone war against it in recent weeks.

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