Sunday, April 15, 2012

US drones kill 21 AQAP fighters in separate strikes in southern Yemen

Unmanned US strike aircraft killed 21 al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters in two separate strikes in southern Yemen over the past several days. One of the strikes took place in an area where Yemeni troops have been battling the terror group for nearly a week.

The Predators or the more heavily armed Reapers killed seven AQAP fighters as they traveled in a vehicle in the province of Baydah, according to The Associated Press. Yemeni officials claimed the AQAP fighters were traveling to the neighboring province of Abyan, where Yemeni troops have been fighting AQAP in the city of Lawdar for the past week.

In a separate strike on April 11, US drones killed 14 AQAP fighters in an attack on a convoy in Lawdar, according to Xinhua. "Foreign nationals," or AQAP fighters from outside of Yemen, were reported to have been killed in the strike.

Yemeni officials did not give the nationalities of those killed in today's strike, but Saudis, Somalis, and Pakistanis were reported to have been among those killed during fighting in Lawdar on April 11. Two "senior members" of AQAP, Dardish Ahmed Mohammed Taher and Imad al Manshaby, who was described as a "field leader," were among those killed, according to Saba Net.

Lawdar has been the scene of the latest major fighting in the widening AQAP insurgency in southern Yemen. The fighting in Lawdar began five days ago, when AQAP overran a military base and seized a "large quantity of heavy and medium weapons," according to the Yemen Post. Several tanks were said to have been seized, and at least one was destroyed in subsequent airstrikes.

The Yemeni military claims that more than 200 AQAP fighters have been killed in and around Lawdar over the past week. Dozens of Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen who back the government are also reported to have been killed.

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