Middle East

Three suspected militants killed in Yemen drone strike

Yemeni soldiers in Sanaa (20 April 2014)
The US carries out drone strikes in Yemen in support of the government's efforts to tackle al-Qaeda

Three more suspected al-Qaeda militants have been killed in a drone strike in southern Yemen, local officials say.

The men were travelling in a car in Shabwa province early on Monday when it was hit by a missile and destroyed.

Witnesses told the AFP news agency that a helicopter arrived soon afterwards to retrieve their bodies, suggesting one might have been a senior militant.

More than 40 militants are now believed to have been killed in a series of drone strikes over the past three days.

On Sunday, drones fired missiles at al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) training camps in the remote, mountainous area of Wadi Ghadina, in the neighbouring province of Abyan, killing about 30.

'Greatest external threat'

An official source at the High Security Committee was cited by the state news agency, Saba, as saying those targeted were "leading and dangerous elements" of al-Qaeda and were of various nationalities.

The operation was based on "certain intelligence information that terrorist elements were training in those camps and planning to target vital civilian and military facilities", the official added.

On Saturday, a drone strike on a lorry in the central province of Bayda killed another 10 suspected militants and three civilians, according to Saba. Officials said intelligence had suggested that AQAP planned to attack military and civilian sites in the city of Bayda.

Map of Yemen

The US carries out drone strikes in Yemen in support of the government's efforts to tackle AQAP and its allies, but typically does not comment.

The attacks come days after a video was posted online showing AQAP leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi telling a large gathering of militants in Yemen that the jihadist group would fight Western "Crusaders" everywhere.

"O brothers, the Crusader enemy is still shuffling his papers, so we must remember that we are always fighting the biggest enemy, the leaders of disbelief, and we have to overthrow those leaders, we have to remove the Cross, and the carrier of the Cross is America," he declared.

On Sunday, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Michael McCaul, said AQAP posed "probably the greatest external threat" to the US.

"And so I think the fact the administration now is going aggressively against these terrorists... is a very positive sign," he told ABC News.

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