Sana’a: Two US drone strikes targeting a vehicle killed two suspected Al Qaida militants in Yemen on Monday, tribal sources said, in the second such assault on the jihadist network in three days.
The attack was carried out northeast of Sana’a on a vehicle carrying five members of the group, the sources said, adding that three had managed to flee.
“Two Al Qaida militants were killed in two drone strikes that targeted their vehicle” in Nakhla, a town 140 kilometres northeast of Sana’a, one source said.
The militants were travelling between the provinces of Marib, an Al Qaida stronghold, and Al Jawf, when their vehicle was hit. Those killed were identified as Qasim Nasser Tuaiman and Ali Saleh Tuaiman.
The two had been in a prison a year ago for joining Al Qaida but on their release headed to the southern province of Abyan where they joined jihadists fighting the army, the sources added.
The latest strike against the network comes after a similar drone attack killed nine suspected members of the group on Saturday.
Monday’s raid brings to at least 25 the number of people killed in US drone strikes since such assaults were intensified on December 24.
US drone strikes in Yemen nearly tripled in 2012 compared to 2011, with 53 recorded against 18, according to the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation.
Washington has stepped up its support for Yemen’s battle against militants of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which it regards as the most active and deadliest franchise of the global network.
The group took advantage of the weakness of Yemen’s central government during an uprising in 2011 against now ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, seizing large swathes of territory across the south.
But after a month-long offensive launched in May last year by Yemeni troops, most militants fled to the more lawless desert regions of the east.