Yemen army kills Qaeda commander with Chechen links

AFP , Saturday 3 May 2014

The Yemeni army on Saturday killed a top Al-Qaeda operative with Chechen links as it pressed an offensive against jihadist hideouts in the restive south, the defence ministry said.

Abu Islam al-Shishani was the second foreign jihadist to be killed this week since the military launched its latest offensive on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

News of his death came as officials blamed AQAP for a suicide bombing at an intelligence post that wounded two guards, and after gunmen killed an army officer in Aden.

AQAP, regarded by the United States as the global jihadist network's most dangerous franchise, has been the target of an intensifying drone war this year that has killed dozens.

On Friday, AQAP leader Qassem al-Rimi threatened to strike back at any party involved in the drone campaign, and denied that foreigners made up the bulk of the group's jihadists.

Shishani was killed "during military operations... against terrorist elements in Abyan" province, said a statement posted on defence ministry website

He had reportedly fought against Russian forces in Chechnya before moving to Yemen to join AQAP, a merger of the network's Yemeni and Saudi branches.

On Friday, the defence minister announced that local jihadist commander Abu Muslim al-Uzbeki had been killed in clashes, also in Abyan province.

A security official said Uzbeki travelled in 2011 from Uzbekistan to Yemen, where he was named an AQAP leader in Abyan.

The army's ground offensive backed by warplanes is aimed at clearing the jihadists from their remaining strongholds in villages and smaller towns of Abyan and neighbouring Shabwa province

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