Special forces free 8 al-Qaeda hostages in Yemen

2014-11-25 22:27
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Aden - Special forces in Yemen rescued eight hostages including "a foreigner" on Tuesday just hours after al-Qaeda seized them at an air base in the violence-wracked country, military officials said.

The seven Yemeni soldiers and a man three Yemeni military sources said was an American - despite a US denial - were abducted when the militants assaulted Al-Anad base in the southern province of Lahij, an official said.

"There were no US personnel rescued from Yemen last night," a Pentagon official said. "We applaud the government of Yemen's hostage rescue operation."

The American embassy in Sana'a declined comment and the Pentagon referred any other queries about the operation to Yemen's government.

Special forces launched a dawn raid to free the hostages, killing seven kidnappers. A member of the security forces was reported to have been lightly wounded during the rescue.

"The seven assailants have been killed by Yemeni forces, supported by American forces," a Yemeni military official told AFP, without elaborating on the reported US role.

The militants captured seven soldiers on guard during the night, before advancing into the base and seizing the other hostage, an official said.

Yemen is a key US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda, allowing Washington to conduct a longstanding drone war against the group on its territory.

Yemeni officials acknowledge that Washington has deployed personnel at Al-Anad base to gather intelligence for drone strikes.

A military official said that "dozens of American military personnel" are based at Al-Anad, mainly instructors involved in training anti-terror forces.

Al-Qaeda has exploited instability in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country since a 2011 uprising overthrew longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hundreds of foreigners have been kidnapped over past years in Yemen, mostly by disgruntled tribesmen trying to pressure local authorities. Almost all were freed unharmed, mostly in exchange for ransom or government concessions.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  yemen

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