strike kills four Qaeda militants in south Yemen

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-A drone strike in Yemen’s south killed four al-Qaeda suspects Thursday, a local government official told AFP.

The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert program.

“Four al-Qaeda militants were killed when a drone strike hit their vehicle” in Shabwa province, the source said on condition of anonymity.

No details were immediately available on the identities of the suspects.

In April, a US-Yemeni aerial campaign killed at least 68 al-Qaeda militants, as part of efforts to head off attacks by the jihadist network’s regional affiliate.

Later that month, Yemeni troops launched a ground offensive against jihadists in the southern Shabwa province and neighbouring Abyan.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been linked to a number of failed terror plots against the United States.

Rights groups have criticized the drone program in Yemen and other countries, and repeatedly urged the United States to investigate strikes in which civilians have been killed.

President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and the US government have defended the use of drones, saying they enable the targeting of jihadists without sending soldiers into lawless areas where the authorities have little or no control.

AQAP, considered by Washington as al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate, is active across several parts of Yemen, taking advantage of a collapse of central authority during a 2011 uprising that ousted veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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