US drone strike kills eight in Yemen

Authorities claim those killed were suspected al-Qa-ida fighters
  • @James_Legge

At least eight people have died during US drone strikes in Yemen, taking the total killed by the deadly unmanned craft in the last fortnight up to at least 25.

Yemeni authorities said those killed were suspected al-Qa'ida fighters. Tension has been high in the country, where the US and UK have closed embassies upon evidence of planned attacks.

Witnesses and local officials in Marib - a central, mostly desert region where fighters hide out - said a drone fired at two vehicles suspected of carrying al-Qa'ida fighters at dawn, killing six.

Residents saw the two vehicles rise in flames and the drone circled the air for a while afterwards.

Another two were killed in the eastern region of Hadramout, local officials said.

US sources told Reuters they intercepted communication between al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Penisnula (AQAP), one of the group's most active branches. This, they said, contributed to the unprecedented closure of embassies in 19 countries across the Middle East and Africa.

Yemen announced on Wednesday that it had foiled a plot by al-Qa'ida to seize two major oil and gas export terminals and a provincial capital in the east of the country.

At least 25 have died in the strikes since July 28, when a drone killed at least four members of Ansar al-Sharia, a local armed group affiliated to AQAP.

According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been over 50 confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen since 2002, with up to 378 reported killed.

The country is one of a handful of countries where Washington - which supports the army with money and logistical support - acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment publicly on the practice.

On Tuesday Yemeni authorities listed 25 "most wanted terrorists" it said were planning to carry out attacks in the country during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which started Thursday.