Yemen: 'Militants' die in fresh drone strikes

The latest attacks come after Yemeni authorities said they had foiled a major al-Qaeda plot

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At least 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants have been killed in Yemen in three drone strikes, officials say.

The number of such strikes in Yemen, presumably launched by the US, has been stepped up over the past month.

The latest attacks come a day after Yemeni authorities said they had foiled a major al-Qaeda plot against oil pipelines and ports.

Yemen is deemed a stronghold of an al-Qaeda offshoot considered by Washington to be the most dangerous to the West.

In the latest strike on Thursday evening, Yemeni officials told BBC Arabic that a drone targeted a group of suspected militants, killing four of them in Wadi al-Jadd in the southern province of Hadramout.

Two strikes earlier in the day in Marib and Hadramout provinces killed 10 suspected militants, the security officials said.

On Wednesday, another seven people died in a drone attack.

While the US has acknowledged targeting militants in Yemen with drones, it does not comment publicly on its policy or the raids.

About 30 suspected militants have been killed in a series of such raids in Yemen since 28 July, news agencies report.

Earlier this week Yemeni security forces were placed on high alert amid fears of an al-Qaeda-linked attack that prompted Western embassies to close.

Both the US and UK withdrew diplomatic staff and urged their nationals to leave the country.

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On Thursday, Yemeni counter-terrorism forces raided a number of addresses north of the capital Sanaa after a tip-off that they were being used by operatives of al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula (AQAP), a Yemeni security source told BBC Arabic.

In another development, a Yemeni diplomatic source told BBC Arabic that the US had suspended arrangements to return about 100 Yemeni detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

However a White House official said there had been no policy change and that President Barack Obama's May decision to lift a moratorium on transferring Guantanamo detainees to Yemen remained in effect.

"He lifted the moratorium on transfers in favour of a case-by-case evaluation. That evaluation necessarily will take into account security conditions. The security situation is always taken into account," the official told the BBC.

Soldier mans an anti-aircraft gun on a military vehicle patrolling Sanaa 08/08/2013 Yemeni troops have implemented security measures across the capital Sanaa amid fears of an al-Qaeda attack
Roadblocks outside the Dutch embassy in Sanaa 08/08/2013 Foreign diplomatic missions - like the Dutch embassy pictured here - extended their closure and pulled staff out
Policeman checks a taxi at a checkpoint in Sanaa 08/08/2013 Multiple checkpoints have been set up around the city
Yemeni worshippers offer Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of Ramadan in the capital Sanaa 08/08/2013 The country remained on heightened alert as Muslims celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan
Yemenis gather after prayers to mark the end of Ramadan in Sanaa 08/08/2013 The day before, the Yemeni government said it had foiled a plot to blow up oil pipelines and seize major ports

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