Air raids on Qaeda bases in Yemen kill 15

AFP , Tuesday 31 Jan 2012

Four raids, believed to be led by US military, kill at least 15 supposed Al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen, including regional leader Abdul Monem al-Fahtan

Overnight air raids struck an Al-Qaeda meeting and control post in southern Yemen, killing around 15 people including a long-hunted regional militant leader, tribal officials said on Tuesday.

The four raids appeared to have been carried out by US planes, one tribal official told AFP.

Al-Qaeda extremists have taken advantage of months of political turmoil in Yemen to overrun swathes of the south of the country.

The night-time air strikes were in the Loder and Al-Wadih areas of Abyan province, one official said.

"We think they were carried out by American planes," another tribal official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Three of the raids targeted a school in which Al-Qaeda fighters and chiefs of a local militant network were meeting around midnight, the sources said.

Around a dozen people were killed, among them regional Al-Qaeda leader Abdul Monem al-Fahtani, who has long been sought by the Yemeni authorities, and other local chiefs, they said.

The fourth strike hit an Al-Qaeda control post, killing three more people, they said.

"Two planes carried out these raids and continued to fly over the region through the night," a tribal chief told AFP.

The New York Times reported several months ago that the United States had stepped up its raids against suspected militants in Yemen with the aid of drones and other aircraft.

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