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4 killed in suicide attack in Yemen

By Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
updated 4:49 AM EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
Yemeni soldiers gather at the site of a checkpoint after a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint in the province of al-Baitha.
Yemeni soldiers gather at the site of a checkpoint after a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint in the province of al-Baitha.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Drone strike kills four suspected al Qaeda militants
  • Security officials blame al Qaeda for the Yemen attack
  • Officials: The attacker used a car bomb in a blast heard more than eight miles away
  • Dozens were killed last week in the same province after a drone strike

Editor's note: Read this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- Four soldiers in Yemen were killed and seven others injured Tuesday morning when a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint in the province of al-Baitha, two security officials said.

The attacker used a car bomb, and the explosion was heard more than eight miles away, the security officials said.

After the blast, clashes erupted near the site of the explosion, and a suspected U.S. drone strike killed four alleged al Qaeda militants, including senior al Qaeda operative Nasser al-Thafri, officials said.

Security officials blamed al Qaeda for the suicide attack.

Yemen takes a step toward democracy

"This province was safe until last month. If this continues, residents will have to evacuate their homes. Our children are not safe here anymore with both the al Qaeda and American attacks in al-Baitha," resident Jaber al-Muraisi said.

Last Friday, 34 suspected al Qaeda fighters were killed in a U.S. drone strike in al-Baitha. The governor of the province confirmed the death tolls, adding that only four of the dead were senior al Qaeda operatives.

U.S. military officials did not comment on that attack. U.S. officials rarely discuss the drone program, though privately they have said covert strikes using drones are legal and an effective tactic in the fight against extremists.

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