AFP – Ten Al-Qaeda suspects were killed while a top leader in the network escaped death as US drones carried out several air strikes on their strongholds in Yemen’s south, local officials said Wednesday.
“US drones carried out two air strikes on Al-Mahfad (in the southern Abyan province) where Al-Qaeda militants — among them Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) number two Saeed al-Shehri — are present,” said a local official in the village.
Four suspected militants were killed while Shehri escaped, said the well-informed official who requested anonymity.
Another local official from the town of Shaqra — controlled by the militants since June — said that six other “Al-Qaeda gunmen” were killed and three were wounded in two separate air raids on the town.
Since anti-government protests swept Yemen in late January, militants have taken advantage of the weakening of central authority to set up base in several southern provinces as well as Marib province in the east.
In May, a group who name themselves the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic Law), believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda, seized control of many regions across Abyan province.