Overnight U.S. drone strikes hit al-Qaida-held sites in Yemen

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-10 16:44:43|Editor: Mengjie
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ADEN, Yemen, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Overnight airstrikes launched by a U.S. drone hit a number of al-Qaida-held sites in Yemen's turbulent southern province of Abyan, causing huge blasts, a military official told Xinhua Monday.

The military source based in Abyan confirmed that the unmanned U.S. plane struck al-Qaida-held sites in Sabar area of Abyan province late on Sunday night, causing huge explosions that rocked the area.

He said that suspected arms depots and a camp used for training new al-Qaida recruits were successfully pounded in the aerial bombardment.

Unknown number of al-Qaida gunmen were either killed or injured due to the missiles that directly hit their locations.

Residents in the area told Xinhua over phone that "several blasts were heard in the rugged areas used by al-Qaida militants in Abyan province."

Elsewhere in Yemen's southeastern part, a gathering of al-Qaida gunmen was struck by unmanned U.S. drone in Azzan town, former bastion of the terrorist group.

Last week, warplanes dropped leaflets on the southeastern province of Shabwa offering a 5-million Yemeni riyal reward for information leading to al-Qaida leaders.

The mountainous areas in Shabwa an Abyan provinces have been the scene of U.S. drone attacks and clashes between Yemeni security forces and militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda branch since the emergence of the group in country eight years ago.

The militant group has yet to make comments about the latest U.S. airstrikes that occurred overnight.

Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional al-Qaeda insurgencies in the Middle East.

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as "Ansar al-Sharia," emerged in January 2009, has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and governmental institutions.

The AQAP and the IS-linked militants took advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in southern Yemen.

Security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when war broke out between the Shiite Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.

Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.