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Islamist militants kill 20 Yemeni soldiers

Islamist militants killed 20 Yemeni soldiers and seized control of an army checkpoint in the south of the country today.

Clone of Yemen airstrikes drones 2012 01 31 0Enlarge
Militants linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have taken advantage of Yemen’s year-long uprising to entrench and strengthen their positions in the country’s southern and eastern regions. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda killed at least 20 Yemeni soldiers and seized control of an army checkpoint in the south of the country today, Reuters reported, citing a senior military official. Heavy fighting was underway between the militants and army reinforcements sent from Aden, a port city, to try to recapture the checkpoint, which is located on the road bridging the southern provinces of Lahej and Abyan together.

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Militant group Ansar al Sharia, which means Partisans of Islamic Law, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters. The AP said 30 people were killed in total.

"The holy warriors of Ansar al Sharia this morning carried out the raid of dignity on the al Hurur military checkpoint in Abyan, resulting in the deaths of around 30," read the message, the authenticity of which could not immediately be verified, said Reuters.

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After a year of political upheaval in Yemen, Islamist militants have launched numerous attacks on the army since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month and promised to fight Yemen's al Qaeda wing, reported Reuters. The Yemeni government has fought back with air strikes on what it suspected to be Islamist strongholds, and the United States has used its drones to target the militants, who have been seizing many southern towns over the past year.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120331/islamist-militants-kill-10-yemeni-soldiers