Wednesday, August 7, 2013

 

Drone strike kills six suspected militants in Yemen

A U.S. drone killed at least six suspected al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen on Wednesday, officials said, a day after U.S. and British embassies evacuated some staff because of growing fears of attacks.


It was the fifth strike in less than two weeks and follows warnings of potential attacks by militants that pushed Washington to shut missions across the Middle East, and the United States and Britain to evacuate staff from Yemen.

Witnesses and local officials in the province of Shabwa said the drone fired at least six missiles at two vehicles in a remote area some 70 km (50 miles) north of the provincial capital, Ataq. Both vehicles were destroyed.

Residents who rushed to the scene found only charred bodies, they said.

At least 20 suspected militants have been killed since July 28, when a drone strike killed at least four members of Ansar al-Sharia, a local militant group affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden.

Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, is one of handful of countries where Washington acknowledges targeting militants with strikes by drone aircraft, although it does not comment publicly on the practice.

U.S. sources have told Reuters that intercepted communication between bin Laden's successor as al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing was one part of the intelligence behind the alert last week that prompted the closure of the embassies.

Security in Yemen is a global concern. Home to AQAP, considered one of the most aggressive branches of the global militant organization, it shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and the world's top oil exporter.

The U.S. government supports Yemeni forces with funds and logistical support.

Yemeni authorities issued a statement early on Tuesday listing 25 "most wanted terrorists" it said were planning to carry out attacks in the country during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday this week. They also offered a five million Yemeni riyals ($23,000) for information leading to their capture.

A September 11 attack last year killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.

U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN at the weekend that the recent actions taken to close the embassies showed President Barack Obama's administration had learned lessons from Benghazi.


(Thu January 24, 2013)-Drone strike kills six suspected militants in Yemen-(Thu January 24, 2013).

A U.S. drone strike on a vehicle just outside the capital of Sanaa killed six suspected al-Qaeda militants Wednesday night, three Yemeni Defense Ministry officials told (source).

The strike took place in Al-Masna'a village of Khawlan district, 35 kilometers southeast of the capital. Three of the killed were senior members of al Qaeda, two of whom were Saudi nationals, the officials said.
Security teams were deployed to the scene, one of the officials said.

"Yemen needs stability and these militants must be killed if Yemen has a chance to stabilize, " said a Defense Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to media.

He said that more strikes will continue and that al Qaeda is living its weakest days in Yemen. "The militants know that no place in Yemen is safe for them anymore, even in areas close to the capital Sana'a," he added.
The United States views Yemen as being on the front line of the war on al Qaeda. Yemen is adjacent to Saudi Arabia, and chaos in Yemen could disrupt oil supplies and upset world energy markets.
Eyewitnesses told CNN that three missiles were used in the attack after the first missed its target. Flames from the attack burned for more than an hour.

Khawlan is one of the most lawless areas in the country and al Qaeda uses it as a traveling route to numerous parts of the country, local tribal leaders said.

"There is no government presence in many parts of Khawlan. No security forces, checkpoints, military presence or police stations," said Ahmed Obad al-Shuraif, a top tribal chief in Khawlan.
The attack was the 8th reported by a U.S. drone over in the last four days in Yemen, the Defense Ministry officials said.

When Yemen's 2011 uprising led to the al Qaeda invasion of Abyan -- the southern province of Yemen -- Washington was quick to call on newly elected President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi to set his house in order and address militarily the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the country.

But drone strikes missed targets on a couple of occasions, resulting in civilian casualties and strong criticism from the Yemeni government.

The latest string of criticism came from Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashour, who said that due to civilian deaths she was in favor of changing the anti-terrorism strategy.

"All we are calling for is justice and reliance on international regulations with regard to human rights and to be true to our commitment to our citizens in that they all deserve a fair trial," Mashour said.
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