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13 Killed in bid to rescue hostages in Yemen

A woman, a 10-year-old boy and a local al Qaeda leader were among at least 11 people killed alongside two Western hostages when U.S.-led forces battled militants in a failed rescue mission in Yemen, residents said on Sunday.

U.S. special forces raided the village of Dafaar in Shabwa province, a militant stronghold in southern Yemen, shortly after midnight on Saturday, killing several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

American journalist Luke Somers, 33, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, 56, were shot and killed by their captors during the raid intended to free the hostages, U.S. officials said. 

AQAP, formed in 2006 by the merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of the network, has for years been seen by Washington as one of the movement's most dangerous branches. 

Western governments fear an advance by Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters with links to Iran has bolstered support among Yemeni Sunnis for AQAP, which has established itself in parts of south and east Yemen, including Shabwa where the raid took place. 

At least one Briton and a Turkish man are held by the group.

The Yemen-based group, loyal to the wider al Qaeda organisation founded by the late Osama bin Laden, has denounced Islamic State, but Western and Gulf sources have said there may be operational connections between the two. 

Apart from the woman and the boy, reports on social media feeds of known militants said among those killed were an AQAP commander and two members of the group. Six other members of the same tribe also died, the reports said, although they could not be immediately verified. 

As special forces battled al Qaeda militants in the house, kidnappers in another building about 100 metres (300 ft) away shot and killed the two hostages, a local man who identified himself as Jamal said.

Senior U.S. officials have said the raid was carried out by U.S. forces alone, but both Yemen's government and local residents said Yemeni forces also participated and engaged militants holding Somers and Korkie.

Credit: Yahoo