Suspected Al-Qaeda militants kill 56 troops, police officers in Yemen attacks

SANAA (AFP) - Suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed at least 56 soldiers and policemen in three simultaneous attacks in southern Yemen on Friday, military sources and civilian officials said.

Two of the three attacks in Shabwa province, an Al-Qaeda stronghold, involved vehicle bombs, they said.

The deadliest single attack was at an army camp responsible for ensuring security at oilfields in the region, where 38 soldiers were killed, the sources added.

"Troops clashed with gunmen at the camp entrance, before a suicide attacker in a bomb-laden vehicle forced his way into the camp where his car exploded, killing 38 soldiers," said a government official in Ataq, capital of Shabwa.

Military sources confirmed the toll.

Simultaneously, "a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up before reaching his target - an army checkpoint" in the nearby Al-Nushaima area, a military official said, adding that 10 soldiers were killed in that blast.

"Soldiers were captured" in Al-Nushaima as others fled, witnesses told AFP by phone.

Around 15km away, suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen targeted a special forces camp at Maifaa, also in Shabwa, killing eight police, military sources said.

The bloody dawn attacks in the province - an Al-Qaeda stronghold - were attributed by the military authorities to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - classified by the United States as the network's deadliest branch.