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US drone strikes kill 7 Al Qaida suspects in Yemen

IANS | Sanaa |

Two US drone strikes have killed at least seven suspected Al Qaida operatives in Yemen's northeastern province of Marib, a security official said on Wednesday.

"Two Al Qaida leaders, Saleh al-Awlaki and Saeed Ba-Kadir, were targeted and killed along with five others in two separate airstrikes late on Tuesday night," the official told Xinhua news agency on condition of anonymity.

The airstrikes were on two cars in different locations east of Marib, which has long been a hub of Al Qaida activities. 

The first car was hit on a road in Atran area, while the other was hit at the same time at a junction linking the areas of Al-Shabwan and Hoson Al-Jalal, said the official. 

The attacks were the latest in a series of airstrikes carried out by the US drones against the terror group in Yemen.

On April 5, a US drone killed two militants of the Yemen-based Al Qaida branch, including Khattab Wuhayshi, the nephew of Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the slain founder of the terror group in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to a security official.

Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional Al Qaida insurgents in the Middle East.

The Yemen-based AQAP, also known locally as Ansar al-Sharia, has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and government institutions.

So far, the AQAP and other terrorists have taken advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in the south of the country.

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