US drone strike in Yemen kills suspected Al Qaeda militants
In Yemen's southern Shabwa province local residents reported that a drone strike killed 2 suspected Al Qaeda militants associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula(AQAP). The two were traveling in a vehicle that was struck in the Rikhwa region of the province. Although the government of US ally Mansour Hadi has been replaced in a coup by Houthi rebels, drone attacks by the US have continued.
Already in 2015 there have been at least six US drone strikes. They have killed at least 20 people. In an earlier strike last week reports claim that four suspected AQAP militants were killed in Shabwa. AQAP long fought against the US-supported Yemeni government, but the group is even more opposed to the Houthi rebels and in some local Sunni groups have joined with AQAP to resist Houthi attempts to move into the southern areas of Yemen. The Houthis along with many others in Yemen oppose the US drone strikes. The strikes have often killed civilians as well as militants. While the US acknowledges it launches drone attacks against AQAP in Yemen, it refuses to comment publicly on the attacks. Since 2011 the US has carried out more than one hundred drone strikes in Yemen. Even though the US closed its embassy in February after Houthi rebels took control of the capital and government, it has managed to continue anti-terror operations.
Another report on the recent attack claims that there were three suspected member of AQAP killed and that the victims had been riding in a pick-up truck according to a military source: "The U.S. attack destroyed a small pick-up vehicle loaded with weapons and explosives in Khora area in Shabwa province late on Sunday night, killing three people inside the car. The al-Qaida gunmen were attempting to move weapons which they looted in the 19th Infantry Brigade last month."
A Saudi diplomat who had been held for three years as an AQAP hostage is back in Saudi Arabia after being released yesterday. Abdullah al-Khalidi was the Saudi consul in the southern port of Aden. The Saudi Interior Ministry gave no details of his release except to say that it was the result of "intensive efforts" by the Saudi intelligence agency.