By Fatik Al-Rodaini
Sana'a, March 10, 2012- US drones raided several hideouts of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda wing in the southeast restive province of Al-Baydha on Friday night. At least 25 AQAP militants were killed, including senior AQAP figures, and several others were wounded, in an air strike conducted by the United States forces according to local website news.
Sources said that AQAP militants came from Qaefa district with their heavy weapons, gathering in Wadi Al-Makhneq district, Al-Baydha province in a readiness to fight against Yemen government forces in an attempt to expand its hold over province.
Recently the U.S. air strikes have been increased exploiting the political turmoil in the country. For years, President Ali Abudullah Saleh allowed the United States to regularly strike against AQAP in Yemen, and US Special Operations forces built up the specialized units to fight AQAP. Even after the departure of president Saleh from the power, the US counterterrorism policy and counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen are still almost the same.
The United States has scored major success in previous strikes, including the killing of Awlaki, who was described by U.S. officials as "chief of external operations" for Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
In December, a U.S. drone attack killed Abdulrahman al-Wuhayshi, a relative of AQAP leader Nasser Al-Wuhayshi. Wuhayshi was once Osama bin Laden's personal aide in Afghanistan. Two months earlier, two teenage relatives of Awlaki were among 24 people killed in an air strike in southern Yemen, sparking angry reactions by members of the powerful tribe.
Two days ago Yemen Interior Ministry said in its website that at least 1000 of AQAP operatives were deployed in many cities within the Al-Baydha province to carry out attacks against Yemeni targets, warning from surprise attacks which being planned by the group.
In related news, Yemen Interior Ministry said in its website that Yemen forces in Abyan province arrested a suspected Al-Qaeda militant. The Ministry stated that Mohammed Ali Al-Raess, 28, from Zanjabar city was arrested in Mothelath Al-Saleh city, Abyan province.
Moreover, two Al-Qaeda militants were killed in Modea district, Abyan province by an explosion belt. Security sources said that Moneef Hadi Harron Al-Hawi and Yasser Mohammed Salem Al-Hawi were killed immediately when their explosive-packed belt blew up as they were headed towards their targets.