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Source: Yemen Times

Seven soldiers were killed and four injured in two separate attacks on Sunday in Abyan and Hadramout governorates in southern Yemen, according to local military sources.

One soldier was killed and four others injured when gunmen attacked a security compound in Hajr district of Hadramout on Sunday, according to the state-run Saba News Agency.

Mohammed Shamlol, a local journalist in Hadramout, said the explosions and attacks are likely the work of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been active in Hadramout recently.  

Also on Sunday, in Abyan a group of soldiers ambushed a military vehicle of the 39th Armored Division at the entrance of the Dhaiqa valley of Al-Mahfad district, killing the six soldiers on board, according to Fahd Ahmed, a soldier from the Fourth Military Command in Abyan. “I cannot confirm the gunmen belong to Al-Qaeda because the investigations are still ongoing. The information about who did the attack is still incomplete,” said Ahmed. He continued, “the 39th Armored Division has been in Al-Mahfad since the beginning of the military campaign that began on April 29 in Abyan and Shabwa, pursuing Al-Qaeda militants. The soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission in the Dhaiqa valley.”  

Al-Mahfad was one of AQAP’s main strongholds after its militants took over Abyan in the middle of 2011. The army expelled the militants in mid-2012.

Although the alleged AQAP militants maintain a presence in Al-Mahfad, the Ministry of Defense said the military campaign has purged the area of AQAP. Dozens of soldiers have been reported dead since the beginning of the campaign. Abdu Al-Salam Al-Saribi, a former resident of Al-Mahfad who moved to Lawder, claimed AQAP militants still live in the mountains and valleys of Al-Mahfad.

The Yemeni government has yet to assign blame for either of the incidents. In addition to Al-Qaeda militants, other armed groups are active in the area, including those linked to the Southern Movement.

On June 13, one soldier was killed and nine others injured when a bomb-laden car exploded at a military location at the entrance of Al-Mahfad.

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