Al-Qaeda confirms top figure killed in Yemen strike: monitor

Al-Qaeda confirms top figure killed in Yemen strike: monitor
Al-Qaeda confirmed that Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, a senior figure of the militant outfit in Yemen, was killed in a suspected US airstrike last month.
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Al Qaeda said one of their senior members had been killed last month [Getty]

Al-Qaeda on Sunday confirmed the death of a senior figure in the militant network's Yemen branch in a suspected US air strike last month, SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Security and local government sources told AFP on Wednesday Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi had been killed, identifying him as a top leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington regards as among the group's most dangerous branches.

Tamimi, a Saudi also known as Abdel Aziz al-Adnani, died in a drone strike on 26 February that targeted his residence in war-torn Yemen's northern Marib province, according to the statement reported by SITE, which monitors militant websites.

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The statement identified him as a "media official" who "previously managed external operations in the group, including those striking American interests", SITE said.

AQAP said Tamimi spent nearly four years in prison in Saudi Arabia before travelling to Yemen in 2013, where he expressed a desire to attack "vital" American interests and carry out a suicide attack himself.

The sources, requesting anonymity, told AFP Tamimi had headed AQAP's leadership council and acted as the militant group's "judge".

SITE said the Al-Qaeda statement had noted another media official, Abu Nasser al-Hadhrami, was "a victim of the attack".

AQAP and rival militants loyal to the Islamic State group have thrived in the chaos of Yemen's eight-year civil war, which pits the Saudi-backed government against Iran-allied Houthi rebels.

AQAP has carried out operations against both the Houthis and government forces as well as sporadic attacks abroad.

Its leaders have been targeted in a US drone war for more than two decades, but the number of reported strikes has dropped in recent years.

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The 26 February attack came a month after three alleged AQAP militants were killed in another suspected US drone strike on a car, also in Marib province.

Yemen has been wracked by conflict since 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition intervened to back the government after the Houthis seized control of the capital Sanaa.

The conflict has since killed tens of thousands of people and triggered what the United Nations terms the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with millions of people displaced.