Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Officials: U.S. drone strikes kill suspected militants in Yemen

U.S. drone strikes killed suspected militants in southern Yemen, local officials say.

Story highlights

  • No senior al Qaeda leaders die in the attack in a southern province, officials say
  • Defense ministry: 30 people killed in airstrikes
  • Unclear whether the fatalities were caused by drone strikes or Yemeni forces

U.S. drone strikes targeted al Qaeda hideouts in southern Yemen on Wednesday, killing 27 suspected militants, local government officials said.

No senior al Qaeda leaders died in the attack in the Shabwa province town of Azzan, the officials said. The strikes' targets included a home suspected of harboring militants, three senior security officials said.

The defense ministry had earlier said that 30 people died in Azzan airstrikes, but did not say whether the fatalities were caused by the drone strikes or Yemeni forces, who were also conducting airstrikes in the area.

Militants headed to Azzan after they lost control of Abyan province Tuesday, sending the town's residents fleeing over fear of more strikes.

Al Qaeda's operations in Yemen

    Just Watched

    Al Qaeda's operations in Yemen

Al Qaeda's operations in Yemen 03:50
Al-Qaeda in Yemen wants Western recruits

    Just Watched

    Al-Qaeda in Yemen wants Western recruits

Al-Qaeda in Yemen wants Western recruits 02:08
Henry Crumpton: Al Qaeda may not recover

    Just Watched

    Henry Crumpton: Al Qaeda may not recover

Henry Crumpton: Al Qaeda may not recover 05:26

Obama ramps up covert war in Yemen

"Azzan is where we expect the militants to seek shelter after the fall of Jaar," said a senior security official. "It's their last stronghold in Yemen." The officials did not want to be named because they are not authorized to talk to the news media.

Al Qaeda denied in a statement posted no jihadist websites that any militants were killed and said that 10 drone strikes were conducted in Shabwa.

At least 14 U.S. drone strikes were conducted over the past two days in both southern provinces, security officials said.

One of the strikes targeted the convoy of Jalal Beleidi, a top commander of the Ansar al-Sharia Islamist militant group.

Beleidi, who was fleeing Jaar on his way to the coastal town of Shaqra, escaped unharmed, the officials said.

Yemeni forces are patrolling major towns in the province in search for militants, witnesses said.

The defense ministry said the road linking Abyan to Aden reopened after militants lost control of the province.

Yemen is sending hundreds of troops to Jaar to maintain control of the town, officials said.

Three-hundred al Qaeda militants fled Tuesday, said Jamal al-Aqel, the governor of Abyan, who urged the government to help rebuild the province.

More than 150,000 Abyan residents were displaced last year after fleeing the war. They are living in shelters in neighboring Aden and Lahj provinces.

The new government plans to search for al Qaeda sleeper cells in major Yemeni cities, said Ali Saeed Obaid, a spokesman for the military committee, the country's highest military authority.

See all of our coverage of drones on CNN's Security Clearance

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.