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ADEN (Reuters) - The Yemeni president vowed on Monday a relentless fight against al Qaeda insurgents who killed 14 soldiers last week, as the army dispatched troops and warplanes to try and track down the militants.
"Our battle with the forces of evil, terrorism, treachery, betrayal and sabotage is a fateful one," Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said in remarks reported by state news agency Saba.
"The popular and official effort must come together to eradicate this epidemic whose criminal actions have become clear for all to see," he added.
Yemen was shocked by the deaths last Friday of the 14 soldiers, who were traveling home from eastern Yemen on family leave when militants stopped their bus, seized them at gunpoint and executed them.
Ansar al Sharia, an affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said it carried out the killings in revenge for military operations against the group.
Officials said at the time that locals had found the bodies riddled with bullets on a road near Seiyoun, three hours after they were abducted. But pictures released later by the militants on social media showed some of them had their throats slit.
Hadi said the killing of the soldiers showed that "this ugly action reflects the psychological and mental problems and deviant ideology that is against religion and the country".
The Yemeni cabinet said it had ordered security forces to track down the insurgents and bring them to justice.
In eastern Yemen, residents said the army was combing towns and villages near the scene of last week's attack. They also said the air force had bombed two houses in the town of al-Houta, where suspected militants were hiding.
There was no word of any casualties in the attack.
Stability in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, is of international concern because the impoverished country borders major international shipping lanes and lies next to Saudi Arabia -- the world's largest oil exporter.
The United States considers al Qaeda in Yemen one of the most dangerous wings of the militant network founded by Osama bin Laden, which in recent years has made several attempts to carry out international attacks.
(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf and Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Crispian Balmer)