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American drones kill seven, injure many others

Drone strikes were first in two months against Al Qaida targets

Gulf News

Sana’a: Two US drones strikes on Monday killed seven people and injured many others in two different provinces in southern Yemen, security and local sources said.

Improving stability and security in Yemen is a priority for the United States and its Gulf Arab allies because of its strategic position next to the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and shipping lanes, and because it is home to one of the most active wings of Al Qaida.

The first strike targeted a vehicle carrying suspected Al Qaida militants in Al Bayda province, killing at least two, one of them was a senior militant called Abdul Raouf Naseeb. A local official and a resident said that another one of those killed in the attack was a Jordanian citizen, however the Jordanian ambassador in Yemen, Sulaiman Al Ghuwairi, denied that any Jordanians were killed in the strike, according to Jordan’s Al Dustoor newspaper.

Similar air strikes have claimed the lives of many Al Qaida members in the province’s capital, Raada.

On Monday night, the second drone strike killed five people in the province of Hadramout, southern Yemen. A senior security official told Gulf News a US drone targeted five people on motorcycles in a small valley near the southern port city of Shiher.”Four of the people died at the scene and the fifth suffered heavy injuries and died later on in hospital.” said the official.

Another source said that one of the dead is called Abdullah Bawazer, known to be a member of Al Qaida.

Residents said that the targeted men were armed and gathered in the valley before being killed by the drone. Ministry of defense said that the dead were members of Al Qaida, two of them among the many Al Qaida inmates who fled Mukalla’s prison in June 2011. Investigators are securitizing the burnt bodies to identify the identity of the dead.

Monday’s strikes were the first in almost two months by pilotless aircraft against suspected Al Qaida men in Yemen. The United States has escalated its use of drones against Al Qaida in the country, where the group exploited mass anti-government unrest last year to seize swathes of territory in the south before being driven out by a military offensive in June.

- with inputs from Reuters