Twelve soldiers killed in Yemen checkpoint attack- official

Twelve soldiers killed in Yemen checkpoint attack- official
Army and police officers loyal to the Shi'ite al-Houthi group march during a demonstration in Yemen's capital Sanaa

ADEN - Twelve soldiers were killed when suspected al Qaeda militants opened fire at a military checkpoint in Yemen's southern Shabwa province at dawn on Thursday, a local official said.

The insurgents attacked the army checkpoint in the city of Bayhan with machine guns while most of the soldiers were sleeping and fled the scene after setting fire to two army vehicle, the official told Reuters.

Yemen is the main stronghold of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the Islamist militant group's most active wings.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said in April that Yemen was at war with al Qaeda, as the militants have stepped up attacks on government facilities after being driven out of strongholds in southern Shabwa and Abyan provinces.

Yemen has been in turmoil since 2011, when mass protests forced long-ruling president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

As well as the al Qaeda threat, the country faces challenges from separatists in the south and an emboldened Shi'ite tribal militia trying to cement its control of the northern highlands.

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