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US Strikes Kill at Least 50 at Al Qaeda Yemen Camp - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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 Pro-Yemeni government fighters gather in a desert area ahead of an offensive against al-Qaeda-held southern towns, in the eastern province of Shabwa, Yemen, 22 February 2016.EPA/STRINGER

Pro-Yemeni government fighters gather in a desert area ahead of an offensive against al-Qaeda-held southern towns, in the eastern province of Shabwa, Yemen, 22 February 2016.EPA/STRINGER

The US military struck an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) training camp located in the mountains of Southern Yemen killing at least 50 militants, medics and a local official said on Wednesday.

On 5 March, an al-Shabaab terrorist camp in Somalia was attacked killing at least 150 people.

The attack took place as the militants queued for dinner at the camp, west of the port city of Mukalla on Yemen’s south coast.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that a U.S. air strike on an AQAP training camp had killed dozens of fighters but it gave no further details.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said: “This strike deals a blow to AQAP’s ability to use Yemen as a base for attacks that threaten US persons, and it demonstrates our commitment to defeating al-Qaeda and denying it safe haven.”

Cook added that the Yemen camp was being used by more than 70 AQAP terrorists. The camp was a former military base in the southwest of Yemen that was taken over by al-Qaeda fighters.

The Yemeni sources said that at least 50 people were killed and 30 wounded. The air strikes set off huge fires inside the camp, residents said.

“The planes struck as al Qaeda people stood in line to receive their dinner meal,” a local official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by telephone.

Yemeni residents had earlier said the attack on the base was carried out by war planes from a Saudi-led coalition which over the past year had been trying to thwart plans of Iran-allied Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking over the country.

AQAP has exploited the war to expand its control in Yemen, seizing control of Mukalla, capital of Hadramout province, last year and recruiting more followers.
The United States regards AQAP as one of the deadliest branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden in 2009.

The group had used Yemen to plot attacks against Western targets, including an attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner in 2009.

It also claimed responsibility for an attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that killed 12 people last year, although some analysts suspect its role was more inspirational than direct.

The United States has frequently targeted al Qaeda militants across Yemen with drone strikes, killing many prominent leaders of the group over the past few years.

In 2015, US drone strikes succeeded in eliminating a number of high-profile AQAP figures, including leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi, religious official Harith al-Nadhari, ideologue and spokesman Ibrahim al-Rubaish, according to the BBC.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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