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Officials: Drone strike kills 13 suspected militants in Yemen

From Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
May 3, 2012 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
Yemeni soldiers fire an artillery at al Qaeda militants' positions near the town of Lowder on April 30, 2012.
Yemeni soldiers fire an artillery at al Qaeda militants' positions near the town of Lowder on April 30, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More air attacks are expected in the next two weeks, officials say
  • Yemeni presidential aide: U.S. conducts two drone strikes a day since April
  • The airstrike is the latest in a series of attacks this week

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- A U.S. drone hit an al Qaeda training site in southern Yemen, killing 13 suspected militants, three security officials said.

The airstrike Wednesday is one of a series of attacks on al Qaeda hideouts expected in Abyan province in the next two weeks, the officials said. They will target Jaar, Lowder and Zinjibar districts.

At least two U.S. drone strikes are conducted daily since mid-April in southern regions controlled by al Qaeda fighters, said a Yemeni presidential aide who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

"This is part of the strategy to uproot al Qaeda from areas they control," the aide said. " The Yemeni government is giving the green light for the attacks and targets are chosen carefully."

The airstrike is the latest in a series of attacks this week.

Seven militants were killed in Zinjibar and Lowder districts Monday, two security officials said.

Hundreds of government-supported citizen fighters arrested three al Qaeda fighters in neighboring Lahj province on Sunday.

Three citizen fighters were killed when militants ambushed a checkpoint at an entrance to Lauder district, residents said.

Additional forces were deployed near embassies this week amid fears that al Qaeda is planning an attack in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, the interior ministry said . The ministry said new checkpoints were set up on major roads in Sanaa.

Despite the intensified attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, says it controls most strategic areas in the southern province. Earlier this week, Ansar al-Sharia released 73 soldiers it was holding captive.

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