Two men suspected of being al-Qaeda members were killed on Sunday in a US drone strike on a site allegedly used for training members of the Islamist network in central Yemen, a security official and witnesses said.
The raid targeted a house in Wadi Abida, in the central province of Marib, where the two unnamed militants were killed, the official said, requesting anonymity. He added that a weapons cache was destroyed on the site.
Yemeni officials often claim al-Qaeda militants have been struck by airstrikes, but this is difficult to independently verify.
Witnesses said an unmanned drone conducted the air raid, just like in most US air strikes that target al-Qaeda suspects in the Yemen. The reported strike was the second in less than a week against suspected members of al-Qaeda.
The United States does not usually comment on strikes by its pilotless aircraft in Yemen. The Yemeni government tolerates such strikes but also usually does not comment on the US role in specific incidents.
Last week, an al-Qaeda leader and four militants were killed in a US drone strike on their vehicle south of Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
In January, Yemeni sources said a US drone killed at least six suspected al-Qaeda members in a strike on their vehicle in northern Yemen.
Washington has stepped up attacks on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – considered by Western governments to be one of the most dangerous arms of the global militant network.
The group took advantage of widespread anti-government protests in 2011 to seize swathes of territory in the southern part of Yemen, before being driven back in a US-backed offensive in June last year.
US drones strikes in the impoverished Arab country nearly tripled in 2012 compared with 2011, from 18 to 53, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank.
In February, the White House defended drone strikes against al-Qaeda suspects, calling them legal, ethical and wise and insisting that they complied with US law and the constitution.
However, Yemeni tribesmen have taken to the streets in the past to denounce the killing of innocent civilians by drones.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)