US air strikes target al-Qaeda hideouts in Yemen: 4 militants killed

     Suspected al-Qaida fighters in southeastern Yemen were targeted in two US drone strikes on Thursday, leaving at least four insurgents dead, a security official told Xinhua. The US drone strikes hit al-Qaeda-held positions in the desert area of al-Saeed in the restive southeastern province of Shabwa , killing at least four insurgents and injuring five others, the local security official said, requesting anonymity.

"The air strikes targeted al-Qaeda-held sites successfully. US drones were behind Thursday's air bombing," the security official said. "Two travelling vehicles were also pounded leaving all passengers inside killed and several others injured," he added. Local residents in the area told Xinhua the strikes launched by unmanned US drones were aimed at a gathering of the al-Qaeda terrorist group in the region. Huge black smoke could still be seen hours after the strike and the military aircraft roam the skies of the province around the clock, according to the residents. Witnesses near the scene said two warplanes flew over the area and explosions could be heard. Others said they saw military helicopters chasing vehicles out of al-Saeed area and heard rocket fire.

Yemeni security authorities usually accuse militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot of being behind armed attacks against military officials and army bases. Attacks and raids have continued since the country's political turmoil last year, when scores of al-Qaeda militants took control of some areas in the restive south but were later pushed out by a US-backed offensive.

The United States used its drones to support the Yemeni military campaign aimed at crushing al-Qaeda operations in the impoverished Arab country.

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