Drone strike kills four militants in Yemen: residents

DUBAI Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:37am EDT

DUBAI (Reuters) - Rockets fired from unmanned aircraft killed at least four suspected Islamist militants in southern Yemen late on Saturday, residents said.

The fighters were believed to belong to Ansar al-Sharia, a Yemeni militant group linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda's regional arm, the residents told Reuters.

The four were travelling in a vehicle in Yemen's southern province of Abyan when two rockets were launched from drones, they said.

"Huge blasts were heard late on Saturday from the area," said one.

Yemeni officials could not be reached for comment and no further details were available about the targets or the source of the attack.

Such strikes on suspected militants are usually carried out by unmanned drone aircraft operated by U.S. forces. However, Washington does not publicly comment on the practice.

Washington has said AQAP is the movement's most dangerous regional wing.

Islamists linked to al Qaeda seized control of some towns in southern Yemen in 2011 after Arab Spring protests weakened the government in Sanaa. However, the Yemeni army and tribal militias recaptured the towns last year with U.S. assistance.

Lawless, impoverished Yemen lies on international energy shipment routes and shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by William Maclean and Angus MacSwan)

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