Suspected al Qaeda militants execute 17 soldiers in Yemen

17 other soldiers were left wounded in the incident

Suspected al Qaeda militants execute 17 soldiers in Yemen

Hussein Malla / AP/Press Association Images

Militants in southern Yemen, thought to be al Qaeda, executed 17 soldiers loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Saturday, according to local sources.

The soldiers were detained while travelling from a city in an eastern province in Yemen which is under al Qaeda control.

Officials say that the soldiers were killed by firing squad after being brought to a remote area. 17 other soldiers were wounded in the incident while others managed to escape and raise the alarm with local tribal leaders.

It is believed that soldiers had been visiting family in Aden and were returning to their base in al-Mahra to draw their salaries, when the attack happened. They were not dressed in military uniform and were not riding in military vehicles.

Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, later issued a statement denying responsibility for the attack and blamed a local armed fighter named Ali Aqeel.

"We entered Ahwar around two months ago to chase this corrupt individual and his gang.'

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has exploited the Yemeni war to expand areas under its control, seizing Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout province, last year and recruiting more followers.