US strikes kill dozens in Yemen
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Two suspected US airstrikes killed at least 30 people on Wednesday in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, the province's military commander said.
"Thirty terrorists were killed and dozens of others were wounded in two air strikes" in the town of Azzan, General Ahmed al-Maqdashi said in a statement published on the defense ministry website.
A local official in the town said earlier that a US drone struck a house and a car, killing nine militants.
It is difficult to determine whether the dead were civilians or militants, as most information is sourced from Yemeni military officials, who often claim the dead are Al-Qaeda militants.
The attack came just a day after Yemeni troops ousted Al-Qaeda fighters from two southern strongholds in Abyan province which they had held for more than a year.
Several hundred Al-Qaeda militants are believed to have fled to Azzan in the hours before Jaar and Abyan's capital Zinjibar were recaptured by the army on Tuesday.
Al-Qaeda gunmen were also believed to have fled to the town of Shuqra, east of the newly recaptured towns, where according to one local official, fierce clashes raged on Wednesday between troops and jihadists.
"Al-Qaeda is still resisting and there are battles in and around the city," where much of Al-Qaeda's leadership is though to be hiding, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He said the army has "surrounded the town from three sides."
In Azzan, a resident said dozens of people "have fled" since the early morning drone strike.
"The explosions were very strong... they shook the whole town," said the resident who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The United States has escalated its drone campaign in Yemen, mirroring its efforts against Islamist militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Washington's use of drone strikes has proved controversial, with attacks often killing innocent civilians.