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Al Qaeda in Yemen kills 5 soldiers, official says

By the CNN Wire Staff
Anwar Al-Awlaki is one of the key figures of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Anwar Al-Awlaki is one of the key figures of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
  • The incident took place in Marib province
  • AQAP recently was called more dangerous than bin Laden's Pakistan group
  • The United States tried but failed to take out al-Awlaki in a drone strike

(CNN) -- Suspected members of al Qaeda's Yemen wing ambushed an army vehicle on Friday and killed at least five soldiers, a government official told CNN.

The incident took place in Marib province, in the western section of the country.

Three other soldiers were injured in the ambush, conducted by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP.

Yemen's government is unpopular among many citizens, and it has been facing a lot of street opposition in recent months, but it has been a U.S. ally in the fight against militants -- most prominently AQAP.

In December, John Brennan, the administration's top counterterrorism adviser, said AQAP posed a greater threat to Americans than the bin Laden group based in Pakistan.

Speaking at a forum at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he said AQAP was "increasingly active" in reaching out to find terrorist recruits, even in the United States.

One of the key figures in the group is Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric who moved to Yemen and has become a key figure in AQAP.

A U.S. drone strike recently attempted but failed to kill al-Awlaki. This came after the U.S. military swooped into a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Al-Awlaki has been linked to the suspect in the Fort Hood massacre of 13 people in 2009, as well as the suspect in the 2009 Christmas Day "underwear bombing" attempt in which a man allegedly tried to detonate an explosive device sewn into his underwear as his flight headed toward Detroit.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.