Drone strike kills six suspected militants in Yemen

ADEN Wed Aug 7, 2013 3:00pm EDT

A foreign woman walks to the departure lounge at Sanaa International Airport August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

A foreign woman walks to the departure lounge at Sanaa International Airport August 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

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ADEN (Reuters) - 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.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Sami Aboudi, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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Comments (7)
justinoinroma wrote:
wait – who’s running scared?

Aug 07, 2013 5:58am EDT  --  Report as abuse
lucky12345 wrote:
U.S. forces have killed dozens of al-Qaeda’s top deputies, and Navy SEALs killed its former chief Osama bin Laden, prompting President Obama on the campaign trail last year to declare that al-Qaeda is “back on its heels” and no longer much of a threat…

Aug 07, 2013 7:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JeffreyV wrote:
Is everyone crazy? First, have the media report that our highly sophisticated phone/internet tapping system picked up potential threats to US citizens. Then, when nothing happens, start the drone strikes (5th strike in 2 weeks)until something does happen. I wouldn’t like US citizens being killed (without trial) by another country’s military on US soil… and I’m sure citizens in other countries feel the same way.

Aug 07, 2013 9:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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