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ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - At least 12 suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in an air strike in southern Yemen this week, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
The ministry's security media centre said the attack targeted a vehicle carrying the men in Abyan province, once a stronghold for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) before it was driven out by a U.S.-backed military campaign last year.
"They were all killed and the vehicle was incinerated," the statement, posted on the Yemeni Interior Ministry's website, said.
The ministry did not say exactly when the attack took place or who carried it out, but Yemenis say most air strikes are the work of U.S. drones, used as part of a campaign against the group regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.
Stabilizing Yemen, which is also struggling with southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international priority due to fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.
Last week three suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in an air strike in the Hadramout province in eastern Yemen, according to residents and a local official.
Earlier this month two air strikes killed five suspected al Qaeda fighters in Abyan.
Writing by Sami Aboudi