ADEN: Two apparent US drone attacks killed at least 10 suspected al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen on Saturday, while Yemeni government forces killed 15 others in a new offensive against insurgents, local and military officials said.
US officials said this week they had thwarted a plot by the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to arm a suicide bomber with a non-metallic device, an upgraded version of the "underwear bomb" carried onto an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
AQAP, a regional branch of the militant network, has plotted overseas attacks that have been prevented but raised major concern for Washington, which is trying to wipe out suspected AQAP operatives with drone and missile strikes.
Two air strikes destroyed three vehicles and killed 10 militants in the eastern oil-producing Maarib province and near the border of the southeastern Shabwa province, the Defence Ministry website said, without elaborating.
Yemen and Washington do not acknowledge U.S. drone attacks.
Local officials told Reuters the strikes were believed to have been carried out by US drones and up to 12 militants were killed, including an Egyptian and two Saudis.
It was the latest in a series of reported drone attacks on militants in the south of the impoverished Arab country who exploited mass protests last year against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory, including Zinjibar, the capital of restive Abyan province.
Last week, the US Defense Department said Washington had resumed training Yemeni armed forces to bolster the fight against al Qaeda, after a suspension during the political upheaval that ousted Saleh.
In a sign of growing lawlessness after more than a year of unrest, Bulgaria's ambassador to Yemen escaped with minor injuries on Saturday after masked gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital and tried to kidnap him, a Western diplomat said. (Reuters)