ADEN (Reuters) - A drone similar those used by the United States to track down and attack suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen crashed in the southern part of the country on Tuesday, witnesses and a local official said.
Witnesses said the aircraft crashed after it hit a mountain near the city of Beihan in the southern Yemeni Shabwa province.
A local official confirmed the aircraft crashed after it struck Shoab Mountain near Beihan and said that Yemeni troops and members of a local militia allied with the government quickly surrounded the area of the crash to keep onlookers away.
The United States regularly uses drones to attack Islamist militants in countries such as Yemen as part of a strategy to combat al Qaeda militants without committing troops on the ground.
Washington acknowledges using drones in Yemen but does not comment publicly on the practice. Yemen is home of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is believed to be among the most active wings of the network founded by Osama bin Laden.
Three suspected al Qaeda militants were killed last month in the latest attack by a drone in Yemen’s eastern Hadramout province.
In April, a series of drone strikes killed about 65 militants in southern and central provinces. The Yemeni army followed up with an air and ground offensive to dislodge AQAP fighters from their main strongholds in the south.
In a separate incident, a gunman shot and killed the head of security and his bodyguard at oil facilities in Hadramout, a local official said.
Aden al-Ghad, an online newspaper based in the southern port city of Aden, said the security chief, an army officer, was killed by a tribesman in the town of Ghayl bin Yamin. Another bodyguard returned fire and killed the tribesman, it said.
Reporting by Mohammed Mokhashaf, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Dominic Evans