ADEN, Yemen — Three prominent leaders of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot were killed Tuesday by a US drone strike in the country’s troubled southern province of Abyan, a military intelligence officer told Xinhua.
Missiles were fired from a US unmanned aircraft and targeted two cars carrying local commanders of the al-Qaida terrorist group near the town of Zinjibar, Abyan’s provincial capital, the local intelligence source said on condition of anonymity.
“Initial reports indicate that the al-Qaida mid-level commander named as Abu Sameh and two other leaders were killed in the drone attack that destroyed their small vehicles,” the officer said.
Earlier this week, Yemeni government forces and the Saudi-led Arabian Coalition launched well-planned and unprecedented attacks against key bastions of the al-Qaida terrorist group in the country’s southern and eastern regions.
Hundreds of Yemeni soldiers newly trained by the Saudi-led coalition and supported by special UAE troops managed on Sunday to recapture the coastal city of Mukalla, Hadramout’s provincial capital, after intense fighting and intensified air raids on al-Qaida positions.
Saudi-led warplanes provided air power and air-covered the pro-government forces and the UAE troops that engaged in intense gun battles with al-Qaida militants on ground, according to local military officials.
Hundreds of southern tribal fighters loyal to Yemen’s government strongly participated in the anti-Qaida military operations in Hadramout and Abyan provinces and elsewhere in south.
Security experts fear that al-Qaida terrorist group may carry out coordinated suicide bombings against army bases in southern Yemen in revenge for the latest military operations.
The government authorities in the port city of Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital, tightened the security measures near state facilities and deployed armored vehicles around the city’s entrances.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional al-Qaida insurgencies in the Middle East and the affiliate of the Islamic State group.
The al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as Ansar al-Sharia, emerged in January 2009. It had claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks on Yemen’s army and government institutions.
It took advantage of the current security vacuum and the ongoing civil war to expand its influence and seize more territories in Yemen’s southern part.
The already fragile security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when an all-out war broke out between the Shiite Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullash Saleh, and the government backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, half of them civilians. PNA/Xinhua/northboundasia.com