Al-Qaida militants on Monday claimed they raked with gunfire a convoy carrying four U.S. military advisers in Hudaida, but American officials said they had no such personnel in the west Yemen port city.
Al-Qaida said in a statement that jihadists had opened fire on Sunday on two cars carrying four American military advisers who were in the Red Sea city on a training mission with the Yemeni Coast Guard.
The militants "opened fire on them as they left their hotel on their way to work," the militant group said, adding that the attackers were able to flee despite efforts by Yemeni security forces to cordon off the city.
A local security official confirmed the attack took place, but gave no further details.
The U.S. embassy in Sanaa however denied the presence of American military advisers in Hudaida.
"Reports of U.S. military trainers in Hudaida are false," an embassy email said.
Witnesses at the scene told Agence France Presse that three American military experts came under attack after leaving a local restaurant on Sunday. They said one man was critically wounded by a bullet to the neck.
An Arab diplomat in Sanaa said that the Americans were immediately evacuated but gave no further details on their current location.
U.S. military experts are assisting the Yemeni army in an all-out offensive launched on May 12 to oust al-Qaida militants from the country's restive southern Abyan province where they have seized control of several towns and villages.
So far, 213 people have been killed, according to a tally compiled by AFP, including 147 al-Qaida fighters, 31 military personnel, 18 local militiamen and 17 civilians.
The offensive was launched after newly-elected president Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi vowed to fight the network and followed days after the White House announced that a plot by al-Qaida in Yemen to blow up a U.S. airliner had been foiled.
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