US drone strike kills five militants

 

A US drone strike aiming for an al-Qa'ida leader has killed five militants as part of a Yemeni offensive against the Islamist group, Yemeni officials said today.

They said yesterday's attack targeted Qaid al-Dahab, a local leader of al-Qa'ida, in a convoy of three cars near the town of Radda, 100 miles (160km) south of the capital, Sanaa. Four other militants were injured. The officials said al-Dahab's fate was not yet known.

Al-Dahab's sister was the wife of Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born radical militant cleric killed by a US drone strike last autumn.

There was no immediate word from Washington on the strike that targeted al-Dahab.

On Sunday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta defended drone strikes in Yemen as a measure “to defend and protect the United States of America”. He was interviewed by the American ABC TV network.

Al-Qa'ida's branch in Yemen, known as al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the movement's most dangerous offshoots. The US considers the impoverished country as a key battleground in the war against al-Qa'ida.

The terror network has had a presence in Yemen for years, but expanded its influence during last year's political upheaval when millions of Yemenis rallied across the country demanding the ouster of their long-time ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The militant group seized control of several towns in the south during the turmoil.

Earlier this year, al-Dahab's brother, Tariq, led militants who stormed and briefly occupied Radda, They pulled out after authorities released 15 of his men from jail. Tariq was later killed in a family feud.

Later yesterday, Yemen officials said seven other al-Qa'ida militants were killed in southern Yemen, but they disagreed over how they died. Security officials said they were killed in an air strike, but the military said they were hit by a missile fired from a ship off Yemen's shore. Local tribal officials said the seven militants were in two cars.

Yemen's army is pushing an offensive to uproot al-Qa'ida-linked militants from their strongholds in the south. The US is aiding the operations. Mr Panetta said its activities “don't necessarily involve boots on the ground”, according to a transcript of the interview on the ABC website.

In their offensive, Yemeni government troops have retaken most of a southern provincial capital from al-Qa'ida fighters.

The officials said the army holds 90% of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, which fell to al-Qa'ida last year. They say 48 hours of fierce fighting left 22 militants and nine soldiers dead.

They said the army was advancing towards Jaar, another town in militant hands for over a year, in a three-pronged attack supported by heavy artillery shelling and air raids.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there