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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yemen: Drones, deaths and violence in clashes with militants



Among the victims of the latest violence were three children killed by an IED. The Yemen defence ministry said that three local Al-Qaeda militants were killed in the province of Bayda.

The ministry said that the three were killed in a Yemeni air strike. However a security official told AFP that the strike was by a U.S. drone. This fits the pattern of the Yemeni government always taking responsibility for attacks that are carried out by U.S. drones. Usually the U.S. does not acknowledge the attacks unless they hit a high profile target such as Anwar al-Awlaki.

Security officials also said a man was killed and five injured in another militant attack on the town of Loder. The man killed belonged to a local group formed to fight off militants along with the Yemeni security forces. On the same day three more of the same force were killed as militants wage a fierce battle for control of the town. In five days of fighting authorities report that 222 people have been killed including 183 militants as they try to seize the town.

. Since last May Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Sharia) have taken control of areas of several provinces including Zinjibar the capital of Abyan province. There are reports of several drone attacks and shelling from U.S. ships off shore. No doubt the violence will continue as Yemen faces internal divisions, two separatist rebellions, and a surge in militant attacks and takeover of territory. For more see this article.

So far there is little sign of any democratic reforms. The transitional government is made up of Saleh supporters and official opposition members who gave themselves immunity from prosecution for any past misdeeds along with former president Saleh and his relatives. The new president ran unopposed and was former vice-president under Saleh. This is all fine as far as the U.S. and the GCC are concerned.

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