Suspected al Qaeda militants take Yemen border post with Saudi

ADEN (Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda militants stormed a remote Yemeni border post with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, killing at least two soldiers including the senior border guard officer, sources in Yemen’s eastern province of Hadramawt said.

They said the attackers took over the base near Manwakh, about 440 km (270 miles) northeast of the capital Sanaa.

The attack occurred less than a week after al Qaeda militants attacked the Arabian Sea port of Mukalla. An alliance of Hadramawt tribal fighters advanced into Mukalla two days later to drive out al Qaeda, but residents say the militants remain in control of around half of the town.

Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the powerful regional wing of the global jihadist movement, has been a force for years in eastern and central Yemen, from where it has sought to launch attacks on Western targets.

The United States had used the al-Anad military camp in south Yemen as a base for its covert drone war against AQAP, but was forced to withdraw personnel from al-Anad when Shi’ite Muslim Houthi forces launched an offensive in the region last month.

The conflict in Yemen pitting the Houthis, who are aligned with Iran and backed by soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, against southern fighters backed by a Saudi-led air coalition has deepened the security vacuum in a country already suffering from weak central authority.

AQAP militants appear to have exploited the turmoil, breaking into Mukalla’s prison last week to free one of their local leaders and striking at the border post on Tuesday.

Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden and Mohammad Ghobari in Cairo; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich