Blast, drones kill 16 al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen

Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:39pm EST
 

SANAA (Reuters) - More than 10 suspected al Qaeda operatives were killed by an explosion in a house in south Yemen where they were making bombs, and at least six others died in two strikes from U.S. drones, tribal and official sources said on Sunday.

A bomb ripped through a house in the province of al-Bayda on Saturday night, the state news agency Saba and a local official said.

Strikes by suspected U.S. drone aircraft killed three people on Saturday and another three on Sunday in two parts of central Maarib province, tribal and government sources said.

The Yemeni Defence Ministry said in an SMS text message that a number of militants were killed in two air strikes but gave no further details.

The United States never comments on strikes by its pilotless aircraft, which it has used to hunt militants in Yemen for years. The Yemeni government allows U.S. strikes but usually does not comment on the U.S. role in specific incidents.

Yemen's government has been fighting a powerful branch of al Qaeda that grew in power and influence amid chaos in the impoverished state two years ago during a popular uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is considered by Western governments to be one of the most active and dangerous wings of the global network founded by Osama bin Laden and has attempted a number of attacks against U.S. targets.

The house destroyed in al Bayda had been used for making bombs, an official from the area told Reuters on Sunday.

"We heard a massive explosion that terrified people and when we went to the house it was destroyed and everyone there was dead," the official said.   Continued...