Three Yemeni soldiers shot dead

Gunmen riding motorcycles attacked a checkpoint in southern Yemen, eluding capture.

ADEN // Gunmen riding motorcycles attacked a checkpoint in southern Yemen, killing three soldiers before fleeing, a security official said. "They were able to get away after opening fire," the official told Reuters from the southern city of Zinjibar. "We are not ruling out that the attackers may have been from al Qa'eda." On Tuesday, a suspected al Qa'eda suicide bomber sped on a motorcycle to an office of the security forces in the southern city of Dalea and blew himself up, injuring eight soldiers. Al Qaeda's Yemen-based regional wing previously focused high-impact strikes on foreign targets but has started to aim at the state in response to enhanced US-Yemeni cooperation in a crackdown that has included air strikes and raids. Four other assaults on state targets have been blamed on al Qaeda's Yemen based regional arm since June, although the group has claimed responsibility for only two of the incidents. An attack by suspected al Qaeda militants killed six soldiers on July 25 in the oil province of Shabwa. Yemen, which is also struggling with rebels in the north and a rising separatist movement in the south, is under international pressure to quell those two domestic conflicts and focus on the resurgent al Qaeda wing in the country. Western powers and neighbouring top oil exporter Saudi Arabia fear the militant group is exploiting growing instability in Yemen to use it as a launch pad for attacks regionally and beyond. The impoverished Arabian Peninsula state surged to the forefront of Western security concerns when al Qaeda's Yemen wing claimed responsibility for the botched bombing of a US-bound plane in December. * Reuters