Drone strikes kill nine Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen

A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa on Nov 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa on Nov 13, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SANAA (AFP) - Drone strikes killed nine suspected Al-Qaeda militants on Saturday in southeast Yemen, where the US military launched a failed operation last month to rescue an American hostage, security and tribal sources said.

"Several drone strikes have targeted Al-Qaeda positions in Nusab (in Shabwa province), killing nine members of the network," a security source told AFP.

A tribal leader said soldiers of an unknown nationality were seen parachuting into the area and clashes ensued, suggesting it could be a new operation to try to free the US hostage.

It was not immediately possible to verify that information.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Thursday threatened the imminent execution of US journalist Luke Somers who was kidnapped more than a year ago in Sanaa.

The United States has said that American and Yemeni forces recently tried unsuccessfully to rescue Somers.

According to Yemen's defence ministry, Al-Qaeda moved hostages, including the US journalist, a Briton and a South African, days before last month's US-Yemeni raid in southeastern Hadramawt province.

Yemen is a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, allowing Washington to conduct a longstanding drone war against the group on its territory.

AQAP is considered by Washington as the most dangerous affiliate of Al-Qaeda.