Officials: Militants free 21 Yemeni soldiers

AP News
Posted: Sep 24, 2013 3:37 PM

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Yemeni security official and a tribal leader say suspected al-Qaida-affiliated militants have freed 21 captive troops after the government threatened to conduct airstrikes in the area.

The official says the Tuesday release came as a result of mediation by tribal leaders from Mahfad in southern Yemen's Abyan province. He said the government had threatened to strike militant hideouts near the village, and warplanes were seen flying overhead to reinforce the threat. A tribal leader from the area confirmed the accounts.

Many tribes in Yemen have close ties to al-Qaida.

The official spoke anonymously as he wasn't authorized to talk to media. The tribal leader spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal.

The troops were kidnapped Friday when gunmen presumed to be al-Qaida assaulted security posts, killing 38 soldiers.