Yemen says kills 30 al Qaeda militants in airstrike

Thursday, December 24, 2009

SANAA (Reuters) – A Yemeni airstrike killed 30 al Qaeda militants planning an attack on Yemeni and foreign oil targets, a security official said on Thursday.

The airstrikes were in the eastern province of Shabwa, said the official, who asked not to be identified. The attacks took place as the militants were gathered for a meeting, he said.

The official said initial reports that two top al Qaeda members in the Arabian peninsula had been killed could not be verified.

"We are still unsure if two of the top leaders have been killed or not. One of them is the Saudi al Qaeda member Nasser al Weheshi," he added, declining to say whether more strikes would take place on Thursday.

Yemen's Supreme Security Committee issued a warning to citizens in the province of Shabwa not to aid the militants.

On Monday, Yemen said its security forces and warplanes last week foiled a planned series of suicide bombings. About 30 al Qaeda militants were killed in those airstrikes with 17 arrested in Abyan and in Arhab, northeast of the capital Sanaa.

Yemen, which has intensified its campaign against Al Qaeda militants over recent weeks, is also facing a Shi'ite rebellion in the north and a secessionist violence in the south.

(Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by Jon Boyle)



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