Sana’a -A U.S. drone strike killed five al-Qaeda-linked militants in southern Yemen on Wednesday, Yemeni officials said.
n official, who spoke on condition of anonymity according to military rules, said the dawn strike targeted militant hideouts in the al-Arqoub area east of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province. Islamic radicals seized control of Zinjibar in May, taking advantage of a wider uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to establish a militant-ruled enclave.
Government forces and mutinous military units who oppose each other but consider al-Qaeda the greater enemy have fought their way back into the city, but continue to suffer casualties to militant attacks.
U.S. drones regularly hit targets in Yemen. American-born al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone on Sept. 30 in the north of the country in what American officials said was a major blow to the militant organization.
Officials said that Wednesday’s drone strike in Abyan killed 5 and injured seven.
Yemeni officials also reported other clashes around Abyan province in the past two days that killed nine people. The office of Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said that three foreigners, two Pakistanis and a Chechen, were killed in Abyan on Tuesday. Foreign fighters commonly turn up in al-Qaeda’s ranks in Yemen and other countries.
Military officials said two Yemeni soldiers were killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb and two others in fighting with al-Qaeda militants, also east of Zinjibar. A second roadside bomb detonated by remote control killed two civilian anti-al-Qaeda activists Wednesday near a checkpoint in the town of Lawder northeast of Zinjibar, said Jihad Hafeez, a member of an anti-al-Qaeda coordinating committee said.