Mar. 10 - U.S. drone attacks killed at least 17 al Qaeda linked fighters according to Yemen tribal sources. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION U.S. drone attacks killed at least 17 al Qaeda linked fighters including some of their leaders, Yemen tribal sources said on Saturday (March 10), while the U.N.'s refugee agency warned of a new wave of internally displaced people. Tribal sources in Bayda, about 267 km (166 miles) southeast of the capital Sanaa, said they recovered 17 bodies of militants believed to be al Qaeda members under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the air raids, launched late on Friday (March 9). They said the search for victims was still under way. A local official said the raids targeted a rural area where Abdulwahhab al-Homaiqani, a local al Qaeda leader, was believed to be based together with dozens of his followers. The official did not confirm whether Homaiqani was killed. It was not independently confirmed whether the air strikes were carried out by Yemen's air force or U.S. unmanned planes. A government source said vehicles and cars used by al Qaeda were also destroyed in the attacks and that the militants had equipment and weapons to launch attacks in Bayda. Militants have expanded their operations in southern Yemen during months of turmoil that eventually unseated the president. Residents earlier said that fighter planes had raided the western outskirts of Bayda town where the Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) militants, who have been fighting Yemen's security forces since mid-2011, had been based. Ansar al-Sharia is inspired by al Qaeda but the precise nature of its ties to the global network are unclear, although the Yemeni government says they are one and the same. Working with the Yemeni authorities, the United States has repeatedly used drones to attack militants from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, described by CIA Director David Petraeus last year as "the most dangerous regional node in the global jihad". The United States and Yemen's neighbor and world No. 1 oil exporter Saudi Arabia have been deeply worried about the expansion of al Qaeda in Yemen, where the group controls swathes of land near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea. The violence in the south highlights one of the many challenges that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi faces as he tries to stabilize Yemen after a year of political upheaval that ousted Ali Abdullah Saleh after three decades in power.