October 11, 2014 / 10:39 AM / 3 years ago

Explosion kills two soldiers in Yemen's Hadramawt region

ADEN (Reuters) - An explosion near a military checkpoint in Yemen's southeastern Hadramawt region killed two soldiers and injured four others, a local official said, adding to a wave of attacks hitting the country at a moment of political turmoil.

The blast took place on a public street in the city of Shibam in Hadramawt, the official said, adding that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or its affiliate Ansar al-Sharia is believed to be responsible.

On Thursday an explosion and gun attack by AQAP in the coastal Buroom region of Hadramawt killed at least 20 soldiers while a suicide bombing in Sanaa by the same group killed at least 47.

The Sunni Muslim militants of AQAP have vowed to target the Shi'ite Houthi group, which seized control of the capital Sanaa late last month and has forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to sign a deal giving it a role in government.

Western and Gulf Arab countries are worried that instability in Yemen could strengthen AQAP, which has also mounted attacks against top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and has plotted to bring down international airliners.

The Houthi group calls for greater rights for followers of the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam which predominates in northern Yemen, but has positioned itself as a national political movement since 2011 by exploiting anger at poor governance.

Although Zaydi Shi'ites and Yemen's Sunnis have historically enjoyed good relations, the rise of the Houthis and increased attacks by AQAP have increased the possibility of wider sectarian conflict, analysts say.

Yemen's political situation is also complicated by a growing southern separatist movement and splits in the armed forces.

Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Editing by Toby Chopra

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