Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-1-23 9:52:27
A US drone strike hit a group of al-Qaida suspects in Yemen's northern province of al-Jawf on Tuesday night, killing at least three operatives, a Yemeni interior ministry official told Xinhua.
"A Saudi agent facilitates the fresh US airstrike on two vehicles carrying important commanders of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)," the official said on condition of anonymity.
It was the fifth such attacks by US drones in four consecutive days.
The bodies were found among wreckage of the cars in a remote desert road in al-Bok'a area in the northeastern part of al-Jawf, a few miles to the south of the Saudi border. "We have yet received the identities of the targeted terrorists," the official said.
The fresh air raid brought the death toll of al-Qaida suspects to 15 after four successive US drone strikes in the Yemeni central province of Marib over the past three days.
The escalation came after three weeks of undeclared negotiations between the Yemeni government and the al-Qaida wing to settle a long-term truce deal, according to several government and tribal officials.
"The deal was focusing on halting airstrikes. In return, the al- Qaida group would halt assassinations against the government officials," said the mediators, cleric Abdelmajid al-Raymi, Sheikh Mohammed al-Wadyee and Sheikh Ameen bin Jafar.
They said AQAP leader Nasser al-Wihaishy had signed the deal, while the government officials rejected it, considering that the continuing airstrikes could prevent others from joining the terrorist network.
Dozens of al-Qaida members have been killed in such airstrikes since Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was sworn in in February 2012, after a yearlong unrest weakened the control of the central government and allowed the militants to take over swaths of territory in the south.
The Yemeni government managed to recapture several of those southern cities in May 2012.