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Response to 'proselytizing'? Al Qaeda group claims killing of US teacher in Yemen.

Joel Shrun, an American teaching English in Yemen, was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen on Sunday. 

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The car American teacher Joel Shrun is towed away after he was gunned down Sunday morning in Taiz, Yemen.

Anees Mahyoub/AP

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Motorcycle-riding gunmen linked to Al Qaeda shot and killed an American teacher in the Yemeni city of Taiz on Sunday, and Yemeni officials said government forces killed up to 14 militants in clashes and artillery attacks on their strongholds.

The attacks underscore the challenges facing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who took office last month after a year of massive protests against his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A police source in Taiz said a gunman riding on the motorcycle driven by an accomplice shot a US English language teacher who was also deputy director of a language school, the Swedish Institute.

Officials from the institute identified the victim as Joel Shrun and said he was born in 1983.

The gunmen, who escaped after the attack, were believed to be linked to Al Qaeda, the police source said. A group affiliated with the militant network claimed responsibility.

"This operation comes as a response to the campaign of Christian proselytizing that the West has launched against Muslims," an unidentified person said in a text message to journalists, claiming responsibility on behalf of the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law).

Islamic militants often accuse Western aid groups of proselytising.

Al Qaeda violence on rise

Yemen has seen an escalation of Al Qaeda violence since Hadi took office in February vowing to fight the Islamist network.

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