Three al-Qaida militants were killed in a suspected US drone strike in southern Yemen, Yemeni security officials said today, the fourth such attack this week.
The officials said the three men were hit as they were travelling in a vehicle in el-Manaseh village on the outskirts of Radda in Bayda province.
Earlier this week another suspected US drone strike killed two militants in Radda itself, Yemeni security officials say, and seven were killed in two other strikes in the south-eastern province of Hadramawt.
Four suspected drone strikes a week is uncommon in Yemen.
According to statistics gathered by the Long War Journal before today’s attacks, the United States “is known to have carried out 41 air strikes” this year against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as the group’s branch in Yemen is known.
That makes for an average of around three to four strikes per month.
The Journal, a product of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies that was founded by former US officials, says that since December 2009, the CIA and the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command are known to have conducted at least 54 air and missile strikes inside Yemen, excluding today’s suspected attack.
AQAP over-ran entire towns and villages – including Radda – last year by taking advantage of a security lapse during nationwide protests that eventually ousted the country’s long-time ruler.
Backed by the US military, Yemen’s army was able to regain control of the southern region but al-Qaida militants continue to launch deadly attacks on security forces that have killed hundreds.
Also today, two gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed an intelligence officer in the south-east.
Security officials said the officer, Mutea Baqutian, was on his way to work in Mukalla, capital of Hadramawt province, when the men stopped his car, gunned him down, and fled.