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Two suspected al Qaeda militants killed in drone strike -residents

by Reuters
Monday, 6 March 2017 18:49 GMT

(Updates with second drone strike, U.S. comment)

ADEN, March 6 (Reuters) - Suspected U.S. drones killed two suspected al Qaeda militants in a missile strike in southern Yemen, tribal sources and residents said on Monday, keeping up pressure on the Islamist group after a push that began last week.

U.S. officials in Washington said the United States carried out at least one new air strike on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) overnight on Monday and has waged several strikes since Saturday, but gave no further details.

Residents and tribal sources said a drone had fired a missile at a car travelling in Wadi Yashbum on Monday afternoon, destroying it completely. They said the bodies of two local men believed to be members of al Qaeda were found charred beyond recognition.

Residents earlier reported that an air strike hit the home of a suspected al Qaeda member in the village of Noufan in central al-Bayda province, while another struck a mountainous area believed to house a training camp for the group in al-Saeed in southern Shabwa province.

There were no immediate reports on casualties in the raids, which took place in areas controlled by al Qaeda fighters.

Since a January commando raid, the United States has shown a desire to both strike al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and to recover from what U.S. officials acknowledge has been an intelligence shortfall about the group since Yemen's civil war forced the closure of the U.S. embassy in 2015.

The U.S. attacks highlight rising U.S. concern over AQAP, which has gained ground amid the chaos of Yemen's two-year civil war.

The conflict, which pits the government backed by a Saudi-led military coalition against the Iran-allied Houthi movement, has allowed AQAP and Yemen's branch of Islamic State to gain territory and carry out attacks. (Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf, writing by Sami Aboudi and Aziz al-Yaakoubi; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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