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5 suspected al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen drone strike, officials say

By Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
September 5, 2012 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A strike by drone kills five suspected al Qaeda members, security officials say
  • The drone attack targeted a militant hideout in southern Yemen, the officials say
  • Most of those killed were new al Qaeda members, a security official says

(CNN) -- Five suspected al Qaeda members were killed Wednesday in a drone attack on a terrorist hideout in Yemen, three security officials in the restive Middle Eastern country said.

The suspected U.S. strike targeted a hideout in the village of Al-Ain in Yemen's southern Hadramout province, the officials said.

Those killed were mostly new al Qaeda members who were seeking to recruit more fighters from within the province, said a security official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Only one of those killed had been with the network for more than three years, the security official said. None of those killed were on the government's list of most-wanted terrorists, he said.

At least three militants are believed to have fled the area, he said.

Drones in Action

Ground troops arrived at the scene minutes after the attack. The Defense Ministry said that large caches of weapons were found inside the residence.

"Weapons found in the house after the attack are enough to conduct more than a dozen terrorist operations," a senior security official told CNN, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The official said that maps and photos of intelligence officials were also found at the hideout.

The latest attack was the fifth drone strike reported in recent days.

On Monday, a suspected U.S. drone attack killed 13 civilians in the town of Rada, al-Baitha province. Major political parties, civil society organizations and tribal leaders have condemned that strike. President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has ordered an investigation.

Hadi, who was elected president in February, has said that terrorism is among his top priorities and has vowed to fight al Qaeda until its surrender.

On Tuesday, Hadi discussed terrorism issues in a phone call with U.S. President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, according to the State-run Saba news agency.

The United States typically does not comment on reports about using unmanned aircraft to target terror suspects, but it is widely believed to be doing so in Yemen, a key battleground against al Qaeda.

Radical American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in September 2011, is the highest-profile target of an American drone hit in Yemen to date. He was linked to several terror plots, including the shootings at Fort Hood in 2009.

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