x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Two suspected Al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen drone strike

At least two suspected Islamist militants were killed in a drone missile strike in Yemen's southern Shabwa province, the latest in a surge since Washington warned of possible attacks by Al Qaeda in the region.

ADEN // At least two suspected Islamist militants were killed in a drone missile strike in Yemen's southern Shabwa province, the latest in a surge since Washington warned of possible attacks by Al Qaeda in the region.

At least 37 people have been killed in just over two weeks in a campaign targeting insurgents linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), described by US officials as the most dangerous branch of the global terrorism network.

That campaign has been stepped up after intercepted communication between the Aqap leader Nasser Al Wuhayshi and Ayman Al Zawahri, head of Al Qaeda, along with other intelligence, prompted Washington to close 19 US embassies this month.

"The car was completely obliterated and the two men inside it were killed," a local official said, adding that the strike happened late on Monday. He gave no further details.

Yemen is one of a handful of countries where Washington acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment publicly on the practice.

Security in Yemen is of regional and global importance.

Aqap has previously plotted unsuccessfully to attack international airliners and is seen in Washington as a potential threat to Yemen's neighbour Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, and Red Sea oil tankers.

On Monday, the Aqap leader Al Wuhayshi said he would free jailed Islamist militants soon.