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Nov 25, 2014 7:16 AM

Yemen army frees 8 hostages, including foreigner

The Associated Press

SANAA, Yemen (AP) Yemen's army freed seven soldiers and a foreigner Tuesday in a raid backed by U.S. forces on an al-Qaida militant hideout near the al-Annad military air base in the country's south, the Supreme Security Committee said.

The committee did not identify the foreigner's nationality, though a security official told The Associated Press that the expatriate worked as a military adviser at the al-Annad base, where American and European officials help Yemen battle the country's local al-Qaida branch through drone strikes and logistical support.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists, said the raid was carried out with U.S. logistical support and that the militants have tried several times to attack the air base.

Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, later told the AP that "there were no U.S. personnel rescued" in the operation.

"We applaud the government of Yemen's hostage rescue," Warren said.

The committee's statement said Yemeni troops killed seven suspected militants from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in the attack. The U.S. considers that al-Qaida branch to be the world's most dangerous as it has been linked to several failed attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Impoverished Yemen, troubled both by al-Qaida and the advance of Shiite rebels, has seen foreigners increasingly targeted in kidnap attempts. The U.S. drone strikes, targeting suspected militant gatherings, have become increasingly unpopular in Yemen due to civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Yemen's Interior Ministry issued a statement Monday warning that several members of the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab organization from Somalia entered the country with the aim of carrying out attacks on government and foreign institutions.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for last week's bus attack in northern Kenya in which 28 non-Muslims were singled out and killed. The Somali rebels said the attack was in retaliation for the closure of four mosques on the Kenyan coast by Kenyan authorities.


Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.


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