* TV channel says strikes done by U.S. planes
* Yemen and United States cooperating against al Qaeda
SANAA, March 10 Air strikes on suspected
positions of al Qaeda-linked fighters in southern Yemen killed
several militants, a Yemeni military official said on Saturday.
Residents in Bayda, about 130 km (80 miles) southeast of the
capital Sanaa said fighter planes late on Friday raided western
outskirts of the town, where the Ansar al-Sharia militants, who
have been fighting army forces since mid-2011, had been based.
"Flames and smoke could be seen rising from the area," one
resident told Reuters by telephone.
A military official said: "The attack targeted a gathering
of al Qaeda elements and a number of them were killed." He did
not give further details.
Al Arabiya television said Friday's raid was believed to
have been carried out by U.S. planes, but there no immediate
confirmation of this.
Air raids against al Qaeda's active regional wing have been
stepped up in the past few years in Yemen, which has had close
security cooperation with the United States.
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.
The United States has repeatedly used drones in Yemen to
attack militants of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, described
by CIA Director David Petraeus last year as "the most dangerous
regional node in the global jihad".
The United States and Yemen's neighbour Saudi Arabia 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.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Firouz Sedarat)