A drone strike has killed six al-Qaeda suspects in eastern Yemen, the first such raid since government troops launched their biggest offensive on jihadists in two years.
In Sanaa, the US embassy on Monday announced the mission would “remain closed for consular services through May 15”, adding that it could remain shut for even longer depending on the situation.
The pilotless aircraft deployed over eastern Yemen targeted a vehicle near Al-Husun, a village in Marib province, killing at least six “al-Qaeda members”, tribal sources said.
The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert program.
Two weeks into its government offensive, Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed pledged an “open war on terror”, at a security meeting in the southeastern city of Mukalla.
The war aims to “cleanse the regions of Yemen” of terror elements, he said.
Yemen’s army says it has inflicted heavy losses on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula since it launched a major offensive against AQAP strongholds on April 29.
But suspected AQAP militants have carried out apparent revenge attacks.
Washington regards AQAP as al-Qaeda’s most dangerous franchise and the group has been linked to failed terror plots in the United States.
On Monday, militants opened fire on an army convoy heading from Azzan to Huta, in the southern province of Shabwa, a military official said, prompting an exchange of fire.
Army troops also killed a Saudi militant with aAl-Qaeda named as Majid al-Mutairi in Shabwa, the defence ministry news website 26sep南宁桑拿, said.
Troops last Thursday announced they had entered Azzan, which had been a jihadist bastion.
The interior ministry, meanwhile, said it has beefed up security in several provinces to prevent likely attacks by jihadists and infiltration by Somali jihadists.
Fears of reprisals as well as a spate of attacks against foreigners prompted the United States to close its embassy in Sanaa last Wednesday.
The State Department “has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting the embassy, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps,” said the mission’s website.