- Associated Press - Sunday, August 5, 2012

SANAA, Yemen — A suspected al Qaeda suicide bomb attack on a funeral service killed 45 people in a stronghold of the militants in southern Yemen, security and medical officials said Sunday.

The bombing late Saturday targeted a funeral service attended by members of civilian militias that helped Yemen’s army in a two-month campaign to recapture the town of Jaar from al Qaeda in June.

Washington considers the Yemen branch of al Qaeda as the most dangerous in the terrorist network. It is blamed for several unsuccessful attempts to carry out attacks in the United States.

American advisers have been helping Yemen’s military in its campaign, and locals often credit the United States with carrying out drone airstrikes against the terrorists. The U.S. military rarely comments on its role in Yemen.

Yemen’s state news agency, SABA, said 30 died in the Saturday attack and 40 others were wounded, but a security official and a medical official said 45 people were killed in the attack. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

SABA said most of the victims were members of the civilian militias allied with the army.

Al Qaeda took over Jaar and other towns in the south of Yemen during the security vacuum that accompanied last year’s protests against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr. Saleh stepped down in February, and his successor, President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi, pledged to restore his troops’ hold on the south. The military has received help from local tribesmen, many of whom opposed al Qaeda’s hold on their towns.

After they were pushed out of Jaar, al Qaeda militants fled to nearby mountains and have continued to wage attacks on the area. Saturday’s bombing was the second major assault on forces fighting the terrorist network.

On Wednesday, al Qaeda gunmen fatally shot four soldiers in a pre-dawn raid on a security building in Jaar.

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