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Senior al Qaeda leader "killed" in Yemen

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Senior al Qaeda leader "killed" in Yemen

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Authorities in Yemen say the leader of an al Qaeda cell in the country has been killed by government security forces.

The governor of Yemen’s Shabwa province, south east of the capital Sanaa, said Abdullah Mehdar was shot outside his home during the night. Nine other militants holed up with the al Qaeda head are reported to have escaped.

Hundreds of Islamist extremists are believed to be operating in the country and, in the last few days, the Yemeni government has beefed up ground forces and carried out a series of training exercises in an effort to counter its growing insurgency.

Western attempts to battle militancy have focused on the Arab Peninsula state, after a Yemen-based wing of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas day plot to blow up a US-bound airliner.