Drone strike kills five 'al-Qaeda suspects' in Yemen

Drone strike kills five 'al-Qaeda suspects' in Yemen
A suspected US drone has killed five 'members of al-Qaeda 'in the group's stronghold of Mukalla in south east Yemen, local officials said on Thursday.
2 min read
27 August, 2015
US drones are currently used against IS and other areas such as Yemen [Getty]

An apparent US drone strike killed five al-Qaeda suspects in the extremist network's south-eastern stronghold of Mukalla, a government official said on Thursday.

"A drone targeted a house where al-Qaeda militants were gathered for a meeting, destroying it and killing all five inside" late on Wednesday, said the local official, who asked to remain anonymous.

The US is the only country known to operate armed drones over Yemen, and strikes on militants have continued during months of fighting between pro-government forces and the Houthi rebels.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], viewed by Washington as the network's most dangerous branch, has taken advantage of the chaos to seize Mukalla, capital of the vast desert province of Hadramawt.

Four other suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed in a similar raid on Saturday in Mukalla.

In June, the group said that its leader in Yemen, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, had been killed in a drone strike.

US military drones are currently used against the Islamic State group (IS) in Syria and Iraq, and other areas such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen against suspected al-Qaeda and other militants.

However, the American use of unmanned militarised drones has been surrounded by controversy due to the number of civilian fatalities it results in and claims that it violates local governmental sovereignty.

Officials said this week that the militants had deployed in force across Mukalla in anticipation of a possible operation by the Saudi-led military coalition to help government loyalists retake the provincial capital.

The coalition of Arab states has been carrying out air strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen since March, but has so far not intervened against al-Qaeda.

Last week, The UAE said that its military had freed a British hostage in Yemen kidnapped by al-Qaeda 18 months ago while working as a petroleum engineer.