As many as 43 ‘suspected Al Qaeda militants’ were killed and dozens of others were wounded in alleged US drone strikes and/or Yemeni air and artillery strikes in the Al Harur area of Lahj and Abyan governorates between 1-3 April 2012.
The strikes were part of continuous raids by joint Yemeni land, sea, and air forces according to local officials. A number of Yemen officials confirmed US involvement, with one local official claiming that “The U.S. is involved in a number of the latest attacks, but that does not mean our air force is not in control of the raids occurring.” He said that the US “has taken part in three of the airstrikes, but said Yemen’s air force is leading the operation. He did not detail the type of support provided,” according to CNN. Another local security claimed U.S. drones were in support of the continuous Yemeni raids, but did not further elaborate on its role in the raids.
It is unclear whether U.S. or Yemeni military forces were primarily responsible for the suspected militants deaths. According to several Yemeni security officials, at least six suspected Al Qaeda militants were killed by Yemeni artillery shelling on 1 or 2 April 2012, and another 16 militants were killed in Zinjibar by “missiles descended from the sea”, although this might be the same incident a few weeks earlier where naval strikes also killed 16 militants in Zinjibar (USYEM051-B).
France24 reported on April 3rd that over the last 48 hours, 38 Al Qaeda members had been killed in bombings and raids and Yemen Post added that dozens were wounded, quoting local security sources. Mulkalla Star provided the highest casualty estimate – 43 militants were killed in airstrikes, specifically attributed to the Yemeni army, after heavy air bombardment which lasted for three days. Al Masdar Online quoted AFP who reported that a group leader named Abu Bilal, a Somali national, was among the militants killed.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (23) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident only mention the southern governorates of Lahj (لحج) and Abyan (أبين). The coordinates for between those two areas are: 13.434170, 45.206792. Due to limited information and satellite imagery available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.