9 Aug 2013

Drones kill 14 more al-Qaeda suspects

4:18 pm on 9 August 2013

Yemeni security officials say at least 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants have been killed in Yemen in three drone strikes presumed carried out by the United States.

The number of such strikes has been stepped up over the past month. Yemen is deemed a stronghold of an al-Qaeda offshoot considered by Washington to be the most dangerous to the West.

In the latest strike, on Thursday evening local time, Yemeni officials told BBC Arabic that a drone targeted a group of suspected militants, killing four of them in Wadi al-Jadd in the southern province of Hadramout. Two strikes earlier in the day in Marib and Hadramout provinces had reportedly killed 10 suspected militants.

About 30 suspected militants have been killed in a series of such raids in Yemen since 28 July, news agencies report, but while the US has acknowledged targeting militants in Yemen with drones, it does not comment publicly on its policy or the raids.

Earlier this week Yemeni security forces were placed on high alert amid fears of an al-Qaeda-linked attack that prompted Western embassies to close. Both the US and Britain withdrew diplomatic staff and urged their nationals to leave the country.

Guantanamo Bay move denied

In another development, a Yemeni diplomatic source told the BBC that the US had suspended arrangements to return about 100 Yemeni detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

However, a White House official says there has been no policy change and that President Barack Obama's May decision to lift a moratorium on transferring Guantanamo detainees to Yemen remains in effect.

"He lifted the moratorium on transfers in favour of a case-by-case evaluation," the official says. "That evaluation necessarily will take into account security conditions."