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US strike kills ‘dozens’ at Qaeda camp in Yemen

The early morning raid at a camp used by ‘more than 70’ Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ‘deals a blow’ to the group

Published: Updated:

US military planes killed dozens of fighters at an al-Qaeda affiliate’s training camp in a mountainous region of Yemen, the Pentagon said.

The raids came almost one year since the Saudi-led Arab coalition launched its bombing campaign against Iran-backed Shiite militias who challenged the authority of the Yemeni government and seized much of the country.

Yemeni government and tribal officials had earlier said Saudi-led air strikes killed or wounded dozens at a training camp in Hajr, west of Hadramawt’s provincial capital Mukalla.

Fighters have held the city since April.

The early morning raid at a camp used by “more than 70” Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters “deals a blow to AQAP’s ability to use Yemen as a base for attacks that threaten US persons,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

“We continue to assess the results of the operation, but our initial assessment is that dozens of AQAP fighters have been removed from the battlefield,” Cook said.

“It demonstrates our commitment to defeating al-Qaeda and denying it safe haven.”

It was not immediately clear whether there were any civilians among the casualties.

Tribal sources said wounded militants were taken to a hospital in Mukalla, while witnesses spoke of around nine vehicles rushing casualties out of the area.

Dozens of al-Qaeda militants were meanwhile seen rushing to the hospital to donate blood, according to residents.

Riyadh launched the intervention in Yemen last year after Shiite Houthi militias seized control of large parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa, and forced the government into exile.