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Yemen's Hadi says he may negotiate with AQAP, who claim killing of Saudi consul

Al-Qaeda supporters launch attack, claim to have killed Saudi consul as President Hadi makes conciliatory speech
A view of Yemen's restive Hadramaut province, where fighting has killed dozens in past week (AFP)
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Deadly clashes have been continuing between the security services and militants affiliated to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

10 militants and four soldiers from the Yemeni army were killed in a large-scale overnight attack on an army barracks in the restive north-eastern province of Hadramaut, according to a military official who spoke to AFP.

A car laden with explosives was driven into the facility’s perimeter wall, while militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled rocket launchers stormed the building’s entrance.

Local residents told AFP that the fighting between militants and armed forces had continued “until dawn.”

AQAP sources also claimed on Saturday to have killed Abdullah al-Khalidi, Saudi Arabia’s deputy consul in the Yemeni port city of Aden.

Khalidi was taken captive in March 2012, and in December 2012 it was reported that his health condition had deteriorated.

Social media users claiming affiliation to AQAP report that Khalidi was executed because Saudi Arabia failed to respond to their requests for the freeing of prisoners held in Saudi prisons.

These claims cannot be verified, and the Saudi embassy in Yemen told MEE that they are unable to comment on the claim as yet.

In the capital Sana'a, President Mansour Hadi said that he would be willing to negotiate with AQAP on condition that all non-Yemeni fighters leave the country.

Hadi has previously said that up to 70 percent of AQAP militants are from outside Yemen, an estimate rejected by the group.

Hadi was speaking on Saturday during a wide-ranging national meeting aimed at resolving the country’s security situation.

He also announced that the council overseeing negotiations with Houthi rebels will be reformed.

Houthis, who are often a target for AQAP strikes, have been occupying protest camps in the capital, calling for the resignation of the current government and accusing them of corruption.

Efforts at negotiation have so far failed, and Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi has called for an escalation.

Houthi protestors again hit the streets of Sana'a on Friday, demanding among other things the reinstitution of government fuel subsidies.

Houthis protest after Friday prayers in Sana'a (AA)

The arrival in the capital of thousands of Houthi rebels last week has also prompted large-scale pro-government demonstrations by supporters of the Islah Party.

UN special advisor on Yemen Jamal Benotman said last week that the situation in Yemen is “very serious” and is “probably the most concerning since the beginning of the transition.”

Yemen has been in the process of political transition since 2011, when fierce popular protests brought about the resignation of President Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power for 33 years and remains a prominent figure.

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