Four US drone strikes kill 7 Qaeda suspects: Yemen officials

Yemen: Four separate US drone strikes killed at least seven suspected Al-Qaeda members in Yemen on Thursday, security officials said, barely a month after a controversial US commando raid against the jihadists.

A dawn strike targeted the home of a known Al-Qaeda member in the Yashbum Valley in the southern province of Shabwa province, a provincial security official told AFP.

Four suspected militants who had been standing outside the house were killed, he said.

A second strike, on Al-Qayfa in Baida province, further north, killed three suspected Al-Qaeda members, a local official and a tribal chief said.

A third strike targeted the jihadists in the Sawmaa district of the province, the local official said.

And a fourth targeted an Al-Qaeda position east of Shaqra in the southern province of Abyan, a security source said.

There was no immediate word of any casualties in the Sawmaa and Shaqra strikes.

Al-Qaeda briefly overran Shaqra early last month just days after the January 29 US raid on one of their compounds in Baida province that cost the life of a Navy SEAL.

As many as 16 civilians — eight women and eight children — were also killed, a Yemeni provincial official said, drawing condemnation of the raid from human rights groups.

The Pentagon has acknowledged non-combatants including children were killed in the raid, the first such operation of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The raid was widely criticised in the United States for its heavy civilian toll and the death of the Navy SEAL.

Successive US administrations have carried out a drone war against Al-Qaeda in Yemen since soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

But the jihadist group has exploited a power vacuum created by two years of war between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and rebels who control the capital to consolidate its presence, particularly in the south and east.

Washington gives only occasional reports on its drone strikes but it is the only country known to operate the unmanned aircraft in Yemen.