Al-Qaeda mourns death of top Yemen leader

Jalal Baleedi was killed by a drone strike as he was travelling in a car with two others in coastal Abyan province

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Al-Qaeda’s branch in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) mourned the killing of a senior commander in southern Yemen, a statement distributed on social media showed, after he was reported dead in a suspected U.S. drone strike last week.

Jalal Baleedi was killed by a drone strike as he was travelling in a car with two others in coastal Abyan province, residents said on Thursday. He had run al Qaeda’s combat operations and had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

“We extend condolences to our Muslim community and specifically our people in Yemen...regarding the killing of the heroic commander Jalal Baleedi al-Marqishi...who was killed in a crusader strike that targeted him while he was among the sons of his tribe in Abyan province,” the statement said.

During nine months of civil war and a Gulf military intervention in Yemen, the United States has kept up drone strikes against extremist groups.

Al-Qaeda overran a police headquarters in a south Yemen provincial capital on Saturday, strengthening their grip on the coast road overlooking the Gulf of Aden, security sources said.

The militants, who hold parts of the lawless south of the war-torn country, seized the headquarters in Zinjibar – located only around 50 kilometers from Aden - unopposed by pro-government forces who fled the capital of Abyan province, the sources told AFP.

The militants have controlled other government buildings in Zinjibar for weeks and also have a large presence in the nearby town of Jaar.

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