Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Drones Kill Dozens in Yemen ; Qaeda-Linked Militants Were Planning Attacks, Government Officials Say

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Drones Kill Dozens in Yemen ; Qaeda-Linked Militants Were Planning Attacks, Government Officials Say

Article excerpt

At least three airstrikes were carried out against Qaeda fighters in a convoy and in remote training camps in southern Yemen.

American drones and Yemeni counterterrorism forces killed more than three dozen militants linked to Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen over the weekend in one of the largest such attacks there in months, officials from both countries said.

At least three airstrikes were carried out against Qaeda fighters in a convoy and in remote training camps in southern Yemen. They were militants who were planning to attack civilian and military facilities, government officials said in a statement.

Yemen's Interior Ministry said Monday that as many as 55 militants had been killed, but a senior Yemeni official put the figure in the 40s. The government's statement also acknowledged that three civilians had been killed and five wounded in one of the airstrikes on Saturday.

Yemeni officials said they were working to identify those killed in the attacks. As part of a campaign using armed drones in Yemen, the United States has been trying to kill Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, and Ibrahim al-Asiri, the group's master bomb maker. But American officials said Monday that those men were not the intended targets in these strikes.

The precise role of the United States in the airstrikes and ground operations was not immediately clear. American officials said the airstrikes had been carried out by drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. An agency spokesman declined to comment.

Other officials said American Special Operations military personnel had supported the Yemeni operations on the ground with intelligence and possibly logistical assistance. The Pentagon declined to discuss the operations.

The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, referred all questions about the operations, which started on Saturday and continued past midnight on Sunday, to the Yemeni government, and he spoke only in broad terms about the counterterrorism cooperation between the countries.

"We have a strong collaborative relationship, as you know, with the Yemeni government and worked together on various initiatives to counter the shared threat we face from A. …

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