SUSPECTED al-Qaeda militants killed 10 soldiers when they ambushed them on a road in southern Yemen, where the jihadist network has a stronghold, a military official said today.
The gunmen opened fire on the vehicle in which the soldiers were travelling yesterday north of the city of Loder, in Abyan province, killing them all, the official told AFP.
Only the driver survived, although he was wounded, a medical official said.
A witness said he saw three men shoot at the soliders, adding they prevented people from carrying away the soldiers’ bodies, only allowing them to take the driver to hospital in Loder.
An official at the hospital confirmed the wounded driver was admitted to the facility, which also later received the bodies of 10 soldiers after the attackers left the scene of the shooting.
Supporters of al-Qaeda have strengthened their grip on southern Yemen since a wave of popular protests erupted in late January against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Militants of the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) movement seized control of most of the southern city of Zinjibar, near Loder, on May 29, and Yemeni security forces have been engaged in heavy fighting with them since.
The Sanaa government says the militants are allied with al-Qaeda but the opposition accuses it of playing up a jihadist threat in a desperate attempt to keep Saleh in power.