June 14, 2014 / 7:54 AM / 5 years ago

Drone strikes kill five suspected militants in Yemen

ADEN (Reuters) - A drone strike killed five suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen late on Friday, a local official and a tribal source told Reuters on Saturday.

Yemen is the main stronghold of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the Islamist militant group’s most active wings. The United States acknowledges using drones to combat AQAP in Yemen but does not comment publicly on attacks.

The strike targeted a vehicle in the Mafraq al-Saeed area of the Shabwa province in southern Yemen, the sources said.

Of the five men killed in the vehicle, two were Saudis, the tribal source said. The source said they were buried on Saturday.

Two soldiers also died in southern Abyan province when al Qaeda militants targeted the military truck they were in with a missile, a local official and local residents told Reuters.

Al Qaeda has carried out several hit-and-run attacks since the Yemeni army drove it out of its strongholds of Shabwa and Abyan last month.

Wealthy Gulf neighbors and the West fear for the stability of the country, which shares a long border with the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia.

Apart from the fight against al Qaeda, Yemen’s government faces a push by southern separatists for independence and battles with rebels from the Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement, which is trying to extend its control over the north.

Reporting by Mohammad Mukhashaf; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Sonya Hepinstall

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