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Yemen: US drone strikes kill 8 people in central Yemen


SANA'A, (Xinhua): An unmanned warplane killed at least eight al-Qaida suspects in three successive airstrikes late on Saturday in Yemen's central province of Marib, government and tribal officials said Sunday.

"Multiple airstrikes on Wadi Abida in Marib on Saturday night destroyed two vehicles carrying members of the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and killed about eight operatives," an official at the provincial Criminal Investigation Unit in Marib told Xinhua by phone on condition of anonymity.

According to tribal sources, the first drone strike targeted a vehicle parking at an orchard owned by a tribesman suspected of having links with an al-Qaida local network in al-Masil area of Wadi Abida in Marib, but it missed the target and caused no casualties.

Half an hour later, the same warplane fired a missile near the same vehicle when two militants were inspecting the previous strike, killing both of them.

The third strike occurred an hour later at midnight about one mile away from al-Masil area, killing six al-Qaida operatives onboard a military vehicle, which the militants seized from the army during clashes last month.

"The trio airstrikes came 20 days after the leader of AQAP Nasser al-Wihaishy signed a truce deal mediated by clerics with the Yemeni government to halt attacks on local interests," said Abdel Razak al-Jamal, a Yemeni researcher and expert on the AQAP affairs.

"The clerics have then promised al-Wihaishy to persuade the government to sign the truce deal within 20 days... the mediators are still waiting for the government to ink the deal and until now there has been no response yet, but U.S. drone strikes," he said.

An official at the presidential office confirmed to Xinhua about the ongoing talks on a proposed truce with the al-Qaida wing. "Condition provided by the terrorist group make the government have no alternative solution but to continue the airstrikes," the official said, declining to further elaborate.

Dozens of angry tribesmen in Marib, Yemen's main oil reserves about 170 km northeast of the capital Sanaa, gathered early Sunday in the main highway linking the province with Sanaa and blocked it to protest against the overnight airstrikes which they said were shaking their homes and frightening their children.

The highway is the key route to provide petroleum supplies to Sanaa and the other provinces, which have been suffering prolonged oil shortages because of repeated attacks on the Marib's main oil pipeline, for which the government blamed the tribal militants.

The fresh air raids were the second of such attacks since the beginning of this year, after a U.S. drone strike killed three suspected al-Qaida operatives in Yemen's southern province of al- Bayda on Jan. 3.

Dozens of al-Qaida operatives have been killed in an increasing airstrikes since Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi 's election in February 2012, after a yearlong unrest weakened the control of the central government and allowed the militants to take over swaths of territory in the south.

The Yemeni government managed to recapture several of those southern cities in May last year.

Editor: Deng Shasha

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