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Jetfighter crashes in Yemen, killing pilot

FILE - This April 23, 2007, file photo shows a pair of Czech-made subsonic L-159 military airplanes flying over the airport in Plasy near Plzen. Iraq will buy 28 L-159 fighter jets for about one billion US$, Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said after negotiating with Iraqi Defence Minister Sadun al-Dulaymi in Prague Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/CTK, Petr Eret, file) SLOVAKIA OUT

SANAA, Yemen: A Yemeni jetfighter crashed immediately after takeoff during a training mission on Monday, killing its pilot, Yemen's Defense Ministry said.

The ministry's online newspaper said the Russian-made MiG-21 aircraft crashed inside al-Annad air base in the southern

province of Lahj due to technical failure.

It said the jet's pilot, Col. Atiq al-Akhali, was killed and a trainee was injured.

Al-Annad is the biggest air base in the country. It hosts a group of U.S. military advisers helping Yemeni troops fighting the local branch of al-Qaida, considered by the U.S. to be the terror network's most dangerous offshoot.

Yemen's air force has carried out strikes during the military's offensive against al-Qaida.

Meanwhile, a Yemeni court sentenced six al-Qaida militants to up to five years in prison over planning attacks and targeting security forces, foreign interests and state institutions. Heavy security forces were deployed to the court building in Sanaa.

A total number of 12 defendants were tried on charges of "forming armed groups to carry out criminal acts" and "planning attacks on military and government buildings and private and public property, including foreigners and the U.S. Embassy

and other diplomatic missions in Yemen," between 2009 and 2011.

Six were acquitted while six others received sentences varying between one to five years in prison.

The trial comes at a time Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has ordered trials for tens of al-Qaida suspects, who are among hundreds of suspected extremist militants that have been held without charges for over a year.

 

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