US raid on Yemen kills 41 Al-Qaeda suspects, 16 civilians: Official

Seven women and three children were among those killed in the raid on Yakla district in the central province of Baida, said the official, who did not want to be named, and tribal sources. (Representative Image) Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Aden, Yemen Jan 29, 2017, 09.52 AM (IST)

A US raid in Yemen at dawn on Sunday killed 41 Al-Qaeda suspects, including three prominent figures, 16 civilians, a provincial official said.

The military operation was the first attributed to the United States against jihadists in Yemen since President Donald Trump took office on January 20.

Seven women and three children were among those killed in the raid on Yakla district in the central province of Baida, said the official, who did not want to be named, and tribal sources.

Earlier, tribal and sources in the region said the raid targeted the houses of three tribal chiefs linked to Al-Qaeda, adding that a number of civilians were also killed.

But the provincial official said Apache helicopters targeted also a school, mosque and a medical facility used by Al-Qaeda militants.

Under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, the United States stepped up its use of drone strikes against suspected jihadists in Yemen, as well as other countries including Afghanistan.

The United States considers the extremist group's Yemen-based franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to be its most dangerous.

But although it only sporadically reports on a long-running bombing campaign against AQAP, it is the only force known to be operating drones over Yemen.

On January 14, the Pentagon announced the killing a senior Al-Qaeda operative in Baida the week before in an air strike.

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State jihadist group have exploited a power vacuum created by the two-year-old conflict in Yemen between the government and Shiite Huthi rebels, especially in the country's south and southeast.

(AFP)