Drone attack on al-Qaeda in Yemen kills four

The base is near al-Mukulla, a port city which has been the target of several drones attacks in recent weeks. (File: AP)

A Saudi and a Kuwaiti are among four suspected al-Qaeda members killed by an American drone strike in southeastern Yemen, a local official said on Friday.

The dawn strike targeted their car as it left the base of the 27th Mechanized Brigade in the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla, the official told AFP.

Fighters from the Sunni extremist group seized the camp from forces loyal to President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi in April, consolidating their grip on Mukalla.

They have exploited months of fighting between Hadi loyalists and Iran-backed Shiite Houthi militia to consolidate their grip on Yemen’s southeast.

The official identified the victims as Shuaib al-Maliki of Saudi Arabia and the Kuwaiti Abdul Aziz al-Otaibi, along with two Yemenis.

Their deaths bring to 13 the number of suspected al-Qaeda militants killed by similar strikes in Yemen over the past 10 days, and follows the death of the second-in-command of al-Qaeda’s global network.

The group confirmed on June 16 the killing by an American drone strike of Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who headed Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch.

Washington regards that branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as its most dangerous and has kept up a drone war despite the pullout of US troops from Yemen in March as the country’s war worsened.

The US still has drones and other aircraft at bases in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

AQAP was behind several plots against Western targets and claimed the January massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Since the war in Yemen worsened in March and a Saudi-led coalition began bombing the Shiite Houthi militia, jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISISI) extremist group have also taken advantage of the chaos.

They have claimed a series of attacks including a car bomb in Yemen’s capital Sanaa which killed at least 28 people on Monday.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48