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ADEN (Reuters) - A suicide bomber linked to al Qaeda killed himself and three others inside the headquarters of government-allied militias in the capital of southern Yemen's Abyan province on Friday, a security source and medical sources told Reuters.

The man, wearing an explosive belt, walked into one of the militia, or popular committee, main offices in Zinjibar and blew himself up, the sources said.

Military and government security chiefs in the south rely on the support of popular committees, which consist mainly of tribal militias, in their fight against militants.

The Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other militant groups strengthened their grip in Abyan and other mainly southern parts of the country during an uprising that ousted veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February.

The United States, wary of the threat to neighboring top oil producer Saudi Arabia and to nearby shipping lanes, has stepped up drone strikes on suspected militant positions in Yemen, with the backing of Saleh's successor, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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