Yemen's Al-Qaeda detains 2 militants for 'spying for US'

Representative image: A Houthi militant stands guard on the roof of a building overlooking a rally attended by supporters of the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen March 3, 2017. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Aden, 'Adan Governorate, Yemen Mar 09, 2017, 08.41 AM (IST)

Yemen's Al-Qaeda has detained two militants accused of being US informants in a district targeted by multiple air raids over the past week, a tribal leader said Wednesday. 

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) arrested two of its operatives in Mawjan district in the southern Abyan province on accusations they were "spying for the United States", a tribal leader there said on condition of anonymity. 

Abyan has been the target of US air strikes as well as an AQAP attack on the army over the past week. 

Washington's drone war on AQAP has resumed pace since President Donald Trump took office in January. 

The US is thought to have launched at least 40 air strikes by warplanes and drones against AQAP since last week, targeting the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa as well as Baida, slightly to the north. 

More than two years of civil war between government forces and Shiite rebels who control the capital have created a power vacuum in Yemen, one which AQAP has exploited to consolidate its presence in the south and east.

Washington regards AQAP as the jihadist network's most dangerous and says it has been plotting attacks on the West in recent months.