Airstrike kills 15 al-Qaida militants in Yemen

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm •  Published: May 2, 2012

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — An airstrike Wednesday killed 15 al-Qaida-linked militants in their training camp in the country's south, Yemeni military officials said. The airstrike resembled earlier U.S. drone attacks, but the U.S. did not comment.

The officials said the air attack targeted the militants' camp north of the town of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan. It coincided with a Yemeni government offensive against the militants.

On Monday, 17 al-Qaida militants were killed in a two-pronged attack by military units and civilians who took up arms against al-Qaida south of the town of Lawder. Two civilians and a military officer were also killed in the fighting.

The Yemeni officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.

For several weeks, the Yemeni military has been on the attack against al-Qaida, after a year during which the militants were largely unopposed in their takeover of cities and towns in the south. This came while Yemen was preoccupied with an internal power struggle, set off by huge demonstrations against longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh that eventually led to his resignation in February

The new government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has made fighting al-Qaida a top priority, but his drive has been hindered by resistance from cronies of Saleh, who are hanging on to key military posts and refusing to step down.

Saleh was long considered a U.S. ally in the battle against al-Qaida, but eventually Washington joined the chorus of opponents demanding that Saleh hand over power.

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