SANAA (Reuters) - Two suspected members of al Qaeda were killed on Sunday in a U.S. drone strike on a site used for training members of the Islamist network in central Yemen’s Marib province, a security official told Reuters.
The official said the strike was carried out at dawn and that a cache of weapons was found at the site. No further details were available.
The reported strike was the second in less than a week against suspected members of al Qaeda who have exploited unrest in the impoverished country since popular protests broke out in 2011.
Shoring up stability and security in Yemen is a priority for the United States and its Gulf Arab allies because of the country’s location next to the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and key shipping lanes.
The United States does not usually comment on strikes by its pilotless aircraft in Yemen. The Yemeni government tolerates such strikes but also usually does not comment on the U.S. role in specific incidents.
Last week, an al Qaeda leader and four militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike on their vehicle south of Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
In January, Yemeni sources said a U.S. drone killed at least six suspected al Qaeda members in a strike on their vehicle in northern Yemen.
Washington has stepped up attacks on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - considered by Western governments to be one of the most dangerous arms of the global militant network.
The group exploited widespread anti-government protests in 2011 to seize swathes of territory in the southern part of Yemen, before being driven back in a U.S.-backed offensive in June last year.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush, Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Heavens