Yesterday, a security official reported that a US drone strike in Yemen killed nine alleged al-Qaida militants early on Saturday. The drone struck at dawn in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province (see Graphic News map below), hitting a suspected militant hideout.There was no immediate comment from US officials. Business Insider adds:
“A tribal leader said soldiers of an unknown nationality were seen parachuting into the area and clashes ensued, suggesting it could be a new operation to try to free the US hostage. It was not immediately possible to verify that information”. Today the grim truth was revealed: the tribal leader’s information was correct.
Canada’s Global News reported that the operation began before dawn on Saturday: “U.S. drones struck the Wadi Abdan area first, followed by strafing runs by jets before Yemeni ground forces moved in, a Yemeni security official said. Helicopters flew in more forces to raid the house where the two men were held. At least nine al-Qaida militants were killed in an initial drone strike, another security official said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters”.
US ‘operatives’ had discovered where two hostages were being held by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Both were alive when American forces pulled them from a building on the group’s compound but it is reported that South African Pierre Korkie died during the short flight to the USS Makin Island and American Luke Somers died on the ship.
And execution without trial continues in Afghanistan:
Matthew Henman, who runs Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre Database (for Information Handling Services, IHS), which tracks reports of strikes, says that drone strikes in Afghanistan have increased recently. Out of 56 reported this year, 30 were since September. Reuters reports that district governor Mahlem Mahshuq said that a drone strike on Monday in Nangarhar province killed eight people, including Pakistani Taliban members.