Three suspected militants killed
Published 21/01/2013 | 20:51
A US drone air strike on a vehicle east of Yemen's capital of Sanaa has killed three suspected al Qaida militants and wounded two others, according to security officials.
The air strike was the third to target al Qaida militants in the area since Saturday and indicated an upsurge in the US military battle against the terror organisation in Yemen.
On Saturday, two US drone strikes killed eight people, including two known al Qaida militants, in Marib province. The security officials said the five targeted on Monday were travelling in a pick-up truck when it was hit in Marib, about 25 miles outside its main city with the same name.
Two were killed on site, while another died hours later of his wounds, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.
Two of those killed were identified as Ali Saleh Toaiman and Qassim Nasser Toaiman. Both were members of the same clan and were among several hundred suspected al Qaida militants freed by authorities in April 2012 after several months in detention, said the officials.
The third was identified as Ahmed al Ziadi, who is suspected of being an al Qaida leader in Marib. All three are thought to have fought government forces in the southern Abyan province, where al-Qaida militants gained a foothold before they were driven out last year.
Yemen's government, aided by the US, has waged a campaign against al Qaida's branch in Yemen. The group is considered among the world's most active, having planned a series of foiled or aborted attacks on US territory.
Speaking to reporters last week, the head of national security in Yemen, General Ali Hassan el-Hamdi, said that the nation on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula was co-operating with the international community to fight terrorism.
"If Yemen is free of terrorism, we will not need assistance from any nation," he added.
The United States rarely comments on its military role in Yemen, but has acknowledged targeting al Qaida militants in the past.