ADEN – A drone strike in south Yemen killed at least 30 suspected Al-Qaeda militants on Sunday, the latest in an intensified aerial campaign in the impoverished country, a tribal chief said.
The reported attack comes less than a week after Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi pledged in a rare video appearance to fight Western crusaders everywhere. An earlier toll said five militants had died in Sunday's attack which also wounded many others when it targeted a gathering of militants in the town of Al-Mahfad in Abyan province.
"More than 30 members of Al-Qaeda were killed and many others wounded," said the tribal chief. A statement on the 26sep.net defence ministry website said the attack on Al-Qaeda training camps killed several militants of various nationalities. The US is the only country that operates drones in Yemen, despite harsh criticism from rights groups.
Last month, Yemeni President Abdrabuh Hadi Mansur defended the US use of drones against Al-Qaeda in his country, despite criticism from rights groups. Drone strikes have greatly helped in limiting Al-Qaeda activities, despite some mistakes which “we are sorry about,” Hadi told the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily in an interview.
Hadi insisted that using traditional warplanes against the militants could cause much bigger losses. His comments had come after parliament – despite the limited powers it has – voted to ban drone strikes in response to attack in December that hit two separate wedding processions. The United Nations had said 16 civilians were killed in those strikes.