Qaeda suspects kill Yemen air force pilot

The attack was carried out by militants ‘suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda,’ an official said.

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Al-Qaeda suspects shot dead a Yemeni military pilot in the south Friday as troops attacked by the militants the previous day handed their weapons to tribes, local government officials said.

“Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire at air force Colonel Mahmoud al-Naqib, killing him instantly,” an official in the southern province of Lahij told AFP, adding that the assailants fled.

The attack was carried out by militants “suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda,” the official added.

Farther east on the border between the provinces of Marib and Shabwa, troops of the 119th Infantry Brigade which was attacked by Al-Qaeda on Thursday handed over their remaining arms to local tribes and withdrew from the area, local officials said.

On Thursday, 12 people were killed as Al-Qaeda seized the brigade’s camp at Baihan in Shabwa province and captured a large quantity of armor and heavy weaponry, a military official said, raising an earlier toll of seven dead.

The official told AFP that eight soldiers and four Al-Qaeda militants had died in the clashes.

Another official had said on Thursday that the jihadists took “30 tanks, 90 military vehicles, 25 armored vehicles and 28 artillery pieces.”

Local government officials said the militants later handed over the camp to tribes but kept the heavy weapons.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered by Washington as the jihadist network’s most dangerous branch, has accused troops there of links with the Shiite militiamen ruling Sanaa.

AQAP frequently attacks both Yemeni security forces and Western targets.

Long on the front line of the war against Al-Qaeda, Yemen has descended into chaos since Shiite militiamen known as Houthis seized Sanaa in September and later ousted the government.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned on Thursday that Yemen is “collapsing before our eyes” as several countries shut their embassies in Sanaa and evacuated their staff.

Yemen’s Sunni-dominated neighbor was the latest to evacuate staff from its Sanaa mission on Friday, citing a “deteriorating security and political situation.”

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