Air strikes in Yemen kill 45 suspected Qaeda militants

SANAA/ADEN Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:42pm EST

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SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) - U.S. drone attacks killed at least 25 al Qaeda-linked fighters including one of their leaders while a Yemeni air force raid killed 20 more in the south, sources said on Saturday, in the biggest airstrikes since Yemen's new president took office.

Militants have expanded their operations in southern Yemen during months of turmoil which paralyzed the country and eventually unseated former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was replaced in a February vote by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Local residents in Jaar, a southern town seized by militants in March last year, said Yemen's air force had killed 20 al Qaeda-linked fighters at a military base they had snatched from the government last week.

However, a spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) denied its fighters were killed in the raid, which also destroyed weapons and military equipment.

"There was nobody killed in the air strike," he told Reuters by phone.

In a separate incident, a government source said the number of militants killed in an air strike launched late on Friday in Bayda, about 267 km (166 miles) southeast of the capital Sanaa, had risen to 25. A local al Qaeda leader, Hadaar al-Homaiqani, was among the Islamist fighters killed, he said.

Tribal sources said the Bayda attacks were carried out by U.S. drone airplanes, but this was not possible to independently confirm. The United States, working with the Yemeni authorities, has repeatedly used its drones to attack militants.

"The bodies were recovered on Saturday morning after the cessation of the attacks carried out by U.S. drone airplanes, and the search for the remaining victims is still under way," one of the sources told Reuters on Saturday morning.

RAID

Residents earlier said fighter planes had raided the western outskirts of Bayda town where the Ansar al-Sharia militants, who have been fighting Yemen's security forces since mid-2011, had been based.

"Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the area," one resident told Reuters by telephone.

Ansar al-Sharia is inspired by al Qaeda but the precise nature of its ties to the global network are unclear, although the Yemeni government says they are one and the same.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, Yemen's neighbor and the world's No. 1 oil exporter, have been deeply worried about the expansion of al Qaeda in Yemen, where the group controls swathes of land near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.

In late January, at least 12 al Qaeda militants, including four local leaders, were killed in a drone strike in southern Yemen, which a tribal chief said was a U.S. attack.

CIA Director David Petraeus last year described militants from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as "the most dangerous regional node in the global jihad".

A local security official said two al Qaeda militants were killed late on Friday as they tried to set off a bomb at a security checkpoint at an entry point to the town of Mudiyah in the southern province of Abyan.

The violence in the south highlights one of the many challenges Hadi faces as he tries to stabilize Yemen after a year of political upheaval that ousted Saleh after three decades in power. On Monday, he vowed to pursue militants linked to al-Qaeda to their last hiding place.

WESTERWELLE IN SANAA

Germany's Foreign Affairs Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived in Sanaa on Saturday for a brief visit to meet the president and discuss bilateral relations, and the country's economic and political future, Yemen's state news agency Saba reported.

"Germany is a historic friend for Yemen and will not let Yemen face the same fate as Somalia or Afghanistan, and we will work with the international community in all its forms for the safety, security and stability of Yemen," Westerwelle was quoted as saying on Saba's website. (www.sabanews.net)

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR warned on Friday Yemen is facing a new wave of internal displacement as tens of thousands of civilians flee tribal clashes in the north and fighting between the government and militants in the south.

It said in the past two weeks alone, 1,800 people have been displaced by the latest escalation in fighting between government troops and militants in the Abyan governorate.

UNHCR said it wants $60 million in 2012 for some 216,000 refugees and almost half a million displaced people in Yemen.

(Writing by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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Comments (4)
1XslaveUSA wrote:
A very important and strategic U.S. ally, the corrupt secular government of Yemen is fighting its own people on three Fronts (the Houthi Shia insurgency in the northwest, secessionists in the restive south and military operations against Islamist fighters as part of the West’s Global war on Terror). To support the Yemeni government and further their imperialist aims the trigger-happy Crucifixers are flying the murderous pilotless drones over Yemen looking for Islamists to kill. Has it ever occurred to anyone in the pro-Zionist Obama administration that maybe the people of Yemen just don’t like their government? After all it has a history of cronyism, nepotism, graft, brutality and ruthless oppression. Perhaps the people in the pro-U.S. Yemeni government are simply not good at governing? Why is America seemingly always on the side of the malcontents in the Middle East? Now America is reportedly ready to give monetary aid to the Yemen military. The U.S. government is going to flush $75,000,000 of U.S. taxpayer money down the toilet that is Yemen so the bribable lackeys that run Yemen can line their pockets with hard-working Americans’ money, the military-industrial complex can enrich themselves and the oil companies can continue to turn huge profits whilst keeping the price of gasoline at the pump sky-high on threats and rumors of war. This $75,000,000 of U.S. taxpayer monies could be better spent here in the U.S. to address the dire needs of the people in the U.S.A. The Bush/Obama neo-Crusader misadventures since 2001 have financially ruined America, yet with the increasing violence in Yemen It certainly looks like the next theatre of operations in America’s endless and futile war against Islamists might be Yemen. The U.S. government tells us that the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants are a global threat. The security of America and the Saudi Arabian oil fields is at risk. The U.S. must defend its staunch ally, the hedonistically materialist authoritarian monarchy of Saudi Arabia against the threat of religiously fanatical Islamists. As long as there is instability in the Middle East the price of gasoline will remain high and the oil companies will continue to make astronomical profits. If one has monies to invest put it into oil and military-industrial complex stocks and you will turn a huge profit for the foreseeable future. With the terrain in Yemen and the way in which the al-Qaeda fighters are surely entrenched U.S. air power alone will not be able to dislodge and defeat al-Qaeda, no, only U.S. boots on the ground will possibly succeed, but then there is the chance that the U.S. will only be drawn into another long, protracted, bloody and financially draining war. One positive aspect is that since Yemen and Somalia are rather close to one another the U.S. could actually fight on two fronts easier in these two places simultaneously than in Iraq and Afghanistan. For those Americans who love the prospects of shedding more Muslim blood, 2012 seems to be shaping up to be a bountiful year. True, more U.S. troops will be killed and injured but the American way of life is at stake, the Muslims hate America because of the freedoms America enjoys. This worldwide Islamist threat must be eliminated and even if tens of thousands of American soldiers must die that is not too high of a price to pay for America freedoms and values. But even if America invades, after the U.S. troops have left Yemen the Islamist will remain and undoubtedly if democratic elections were held in Yemen today or after U.S. intervention, as in all the nations of Islam, the Islamist political parties would win. The people of the Muslim world want only to be governed by Islamic Law (Sharia) whether Christendom likes it or not. Political Islam is the future dynamic force in the world and nothing the neo-Crusaders can do will stop it. As the flags of secularism are lowered (or torn down) in the Middle East the banners of Islam will rise. ALLAHU AKBAR! (God is The Greatest!)

Mar 10, 2012 6:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
unclepie wrote:
How does a technician sitting at a computer screen in Nevada directing robot bombs delivered by drone aircraft decide who are the bad guys? Even if he has been tipped off by the locals, how can he rely on them? Perhaps they are just settling an old score? How can a robot guided bomb be judge, jury and executioner? Is this really any different than Hitler’s V-1 and V-2 bombs raining down on London, except that our aim is better now?

Mar 10, 2012 12:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
vtyankee14 wrote:
Wow? We have really worked together with an “ally” to accomplish something positive in the “fight on terror”? This is cool,not trying to belittle the actions taken! Watch and wait for the reaction from the rest of the world though? Willing to bet their will be a fair amount of criticism?Thank you.

Mar 10, 2012 3:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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