SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A U.S. drone strike on a house in central Yemen killed three suspected al-Qaida militants, Yemeni security officials said.
The officials said the aircraft struck the house in the Obeida Valley in Marib province, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has a strong presence. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
A website affiliated with the Yemeni al-Qaida branch meanwhile confirmed earlier reports that militants had killed 14 soldiers on Friday near the city of Shibam in the eastern Hadramawt province.
The website published pictures of the militants checking the IDs of the soldiers after ordering them out of a bus that was taking them to Sanaa for vacation from the city of Sayoun.
A statement issued by the group’s media arm said militants took the soldiers to the main market in the ancient city of Shibam and told the people who gathered there that the soldiers would be killed because they took part in military campaigns against them.
Friday’s attack came after deadly clashes near Sayoun, where the Defense Ministry said troops killed at least 25 al-Qaida militants over the past two days. The ministry said it has been sending reinforcements to the city after receiving information that al-Qaida is plotting the city’s takeover.
A senior army officer said the al-Qaida affiliate has summoned a large number of its fighters to the main cities of Sayoun and al-Qatn with the intent of seizing Hadramawt province, and that the government was also sending reinforcements to the province.
The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to brief the media.
Yemen receives counterterrorism training and assistance from Washington, which considers al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula the most active branch of the group in the world.
The United States has waged a longstanding covert drone campaign against al-Qaida suspects in Yemen, killing a number of high-ranking operatives but also scores of civilians, drawing criticism from the Yemeni government and human rights groups.
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