Aden – At a time the terror offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is attempting a failed comeback in Yemen’s Lahij, a US drone reportedly killed four suspected members of the organization in the northern district of Moudiya early Wednesday.
They said the attack in Amqoz in the Moudiya district of Abyan province took place around midnight on Tuesday. Their vehicle was completely burned and the four bodies inside badly charred, they added.
Residents also reported hearing missile strikes on a suspected Qaeda outpost in Wadi al-Naseel area, also in Abyan province, but said the number of casualties was unknown.
The US raid came within 48 hours after an attack staged by AQAP hardliners against local authorities in Lahij province, bombing two cars. Pro-legitimacy Yemeni security forces responded to the attack killing 10 armed attackers, some of whom equipped with explosive belts. Six government soldiers and 4 citizens were killed in the attack.
Yemeni spectators deemed the AQAP attack a failure given that the group lost 10 fighters, unlike previous incidents during which security forces accounted for mass losses caused by lone wolf suicide bombing.
Counter-AQAP security and military operations in southern Yemen have intensified recently as the group attempts to push back to forefronts through staging a series of terrorist attacks. The most recent of which was the failed attack targeting local authority headquarters in Lahj province, north of Aden.
Local government forces announced the arrest of Abu Ali al-Sayyari, a senior AQAP leader–the arrest was made during a qualitative raid which also apprehended three militants and killed two others.
Yemeni security authorities recently stepped up attacks targeting AQAP strongholds. They have also cleared some neighborhoods in the government-held interim capital Aden.
The United States has repeatedly attacked AQAP, the Yemeni arm of the militant group, in strikes this month from aircraft and unmanned drones in what US officials say is a campaign to degrade the group’s ability to coordinate militant attacks abroad.
AQAP has exploited nearly two years of civil war in Yemen to recruit followers and cement its dominance in central and southern parts of the Arab country.