Explosion at house kills more than 10 suspected al-Qaida bombmakers on same day airstrike claims three militants
More than 10 suspected al-Qaida operatives were killed by an explosion in a house in south Yemen where they were making bombs and at least three others died in a drone strike, tribal and official sources said on Sunday.
A bomb ripped through a house in the province of al-Bayda on Saturday night, the state news agency, Saba, and a local official said. Three other suspected militants were killed in a drone strike in the central province of Maarib, also on Saturday, tribal sources and the Ministry of Defence said.
Yemen’s government has been fighting a powerful branch of al-Qaida that took advantage of chaos in the impoverished state two years ago, during a popular uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is considered by western governments to be one of the most active and dangerous wings of the global network founded by Osama bin Laden; it has attempted a number of attacks against US targets.
The house that was destroyed in al-Bayda had been used for making bombs, an official from the area told Reuters on Sunday. “We heard a massive explosion that terrified people and when we went to the house it was destroyed and everyone there was dead,” the official said.
In Maarib, a pilotless plane carried out two strikes against a car, a witness said.
“One of the strikes missed the target and the other hit the car and left the bodies of the three people in it completely charred,” the witness told Reuters by telephone from the area. He said unidentified people evacuated the bodies while tribesmen blocked the main road linking the capital of Maarib province with Sanaa.
The Yemeni Defence Ministry said in a text message that a number of militants were killed in two air strikes but gave no further details.
Earlier this month, dozens of armed tribesmen took to the streets in southern Yemen to protest against drone strikes which they said killed innocent civilians and fed anger against the United States. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi spoke openly in favour of the strikes during a trip to the US in September.
Hadi, who was praised by the US ambassador in Sanaa as being more effective against al-Qaida than his predecessor, was quoted in September as saying that he personally approved every attack. Hadi has not commented on the most recent strikes.
An AQAP offshoot, Ansar al-Sharia (Partisan of Islamic Law), seized a number of towns in the south of the country in 2011; Yemeni government forces retook the areas in June, in a US-backed offensive.