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Al Qaeda group threatens to execute Yemeni army hostages

In a statement issued Thursday, the miltant group urged the families of the hostages to put pressure on the government to give out to their demands.

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Yemeni General Ali Salah, deputy chief of staff for military operations, speaks to defence officials as he visits Yemen's restive Abyan province on March 6, 2012. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is threatening to kill the over 70 Yemeni troops it holds hostage if its demands for the release of prisoners is not met, according to CNN.

Three troops have already been executed.

In a statement issued Thursday, the miltant group urged families of the hostages to put pressure on the government to give in to their demands.

CNN quoted a Yemeni security official as saying about the request: "We will work on freeing the soldiers being held by the militants, but only by reasonable means. The government will not set free any militants. This will only make the terror crisis even worse."

The hostage situation comes after last Sunday's assault by AQAP fighters against a Yemeni military base in the outskirts of Abyan province, killing nearly 200 Yemeni soldiers and stealing heavy weapons and armored vehicles, according to Xinhua.

Read more on GlobalPostYemen: army, militant clashes leave scores dead

This was the latest of a string of attacks by the militant group who is battling government troops for control of towns and regions across Yemen, according to the Associated Press.

Early Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the military had struck back at militants, killing eight and wounding 12.

The fighting between the Islamic militant group and the government come during a time of political turmoil with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh having stepped down last month.

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across Yemen Thursday, demanding that the new president reform the military and purge loyalists of the former president.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120309/al-qaeda-group-threatens-execute-yemeni-army-hostages