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Yemeni govt troops kill 30 al Qaeda suspects in south Yemen

Army soldiers man a checkpoint in the historical town of Baraqish in Yemen's al-Jawf province after it was taken over by pro-government forces from Houthi fighters April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Ali Owidha

ADEN (Reuters) - Yemeni troops loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government killed at least 30 suspected al Qaeda militants in a raid backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, the Yemeni military said on Wednesday.

Four soldiers were also killed in the operation on Tuesday at a farm west of Mukalla, the port city and capital of the province of Hadramout, the military said on its Facebook page.

The raid was supported by the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been fighting on the side of Hadi in a war against Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemeni officials on Tuesday reported that six militants were killed in the raid, while four others were captured.

Al Qaeda militants took advantage of the civil war which began last year, seizing parts of southern Yemen, including Mukalla, before Yemeni government soldiers and Arab coalition troops drove them out.

The militants have since dispersed into the desert or have gone into hiding, but continue to launch occasional attacks on state officials and institutions.

The United States, which regards al Qaeda in Yemen as one of the deadliest branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, has used drones to hunt down leaders and elements of the militant group.

Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky