Yemen air raids 'kill al-Qaeda militants'

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About 40 al-Qaeda militants have been killed in a series of air raids in the mountainous south, officials say.

They told the AP news agency that government forces had taken the al-Qaeda base of al-Rahha after three days of strikes.

The raids come days after an attack on a nearby army base left 30 dead.

Islamist militants have renewed attacks since President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February. He has made fighting al-Qaeda a top priority.

One unnamed official told the AFP news agency that 38 militants had been killed after days of shelling and bombing in the province of Lahij. Another official said 43 people had been killed.

The militants have taken advantage of a year of anti-government protests and have been locked in deadly battles with the army for months.

There is no confirmation of the Yemeni claim that the militants are from al-Qaeda.

A group linked to al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia, has been increasing its influence in southern Yemen over the past year of political instability.

The United States, worried about the militant threat, has been encouraging the Yemeni authorities to tackle them, and has reportedly intensified its own drone strikes.

Yemen's political upheavals finally forced long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave the country earlier this year.

However, BBC World Affairs correspondent Nick Childs says continuing tensions within the country's political and military establishments are hampering the new government's efforts to establish stability and maybe also in its campaign against the militants.

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