Air raids in Yemen kill 45 al-Qaeda militants
SANAA / WASHINGTON
Supporters of al-Qaeda tote their rifles in the back of a pick-up truck in Yemen in this photo. Joint attacks by US drones and Yemeni air force kill at least 40 militants. AFP photoU.S. drone attacks killed at least 25 suspected al-Qaeda-linked fighters including one of their leaders while a Yemeni air force raid killed 20 more in the south, sources said March 10, in the biggest airstrikes since Yemen’s new president took office.
Local residents in Jaar, a southern town seized by militants in March last year, said Yemen’s air force had killed 20 al-Qaeda-linked fighters at a military base they had snatched from the government last week.
However, a spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) denied its fighters were killed in the raid, which also destroyed weapons and military equipment, Reuters reported. In a separate incident, a government source said the number of militants killed in an air strike launched late on March 9 in Bayda, about 267 kilometers southeast of the capital Sanaa, had risen to 25. A local al-Qaeda leader, Hadaar al-Homaiqani, was among the Islamist fighters killed, he said.
US military funding
The air strikes came as the U.S. defense officials said March 10 that Pentagon is planning to restart programs that would fund military training and equipment in Yemen, the Associated Press reported. The officials said as much as $75 million in military assistance could begin to flow later this year. The Pentagon and State Department are putting together a letter to send to Congress to request the aid be restarted.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived in Sanaa on March 10 for a brief visit to meet the president and discuss bilateral relations, and the country’s economic and political future, Yemen’s state news agency Saba reported.