Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Yemen: At least 13 Al-Qa'ida militants killed in air strike

According to Yemeni officials, at least 13 Al-Qa'ida militants have been killed in air strikes in the south of the country. One tribal leader said that at least four of the victims were local Al-Qa'ida chiefs.

The attack reportedly took place in the Abyan province. Islamists began taking control of parts of Abyan last year. Security forces have tried unsuccessfully to push them out and suffered heavy losses.

The details about the attack are yet to be confirmed but according to a number of sources a convoy of two cars was struck east of Lawdar city. AFP news agency, however, reported that a control post and a school hosting a midnight meeting of local al-Qa'ida chiefs and fighters were targeted in four overnight raids.

It was reported that one al-Qa'ida leader by the name of Monem al-Fahtani was among the dead. A source told AFP: "We think they were carried out by American planes.”

The US is thought to regularly conduct such drone attacks on suspected al-Qa'ida militants; an attack of this nature last year killed al-Qa'ida chief Anwar al-Awlaki. Some are concerned that the group have fortified their position in southern and eastern parts of Yemen during the protests last year.

Following months of upheaval in the country, last November President Ali Abdulah Saleh bowed to pressure to hand over power to his deputy. The former Yemeni ruler is now in the US for medical treatment after sustaining injuries in a bombing at the presidential palace in Sana'a, in June.

Sources: Reuters, AFP, BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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