Several air strikes in south Yemen have been made against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, this weekend, leaving an unknown death toll. An anonymous Yemeni official told CNN the scale of these attacks is “massive and unprecedented” against “high-level AQAP targets”. “It’s too early to tell how many militants were killed, but the number is at least a dozen,” the official said, adding that it takes time to see the precise details of the damage, including if there were any foreign nationals or civilians killed.
Another anonymous official told CNN “I’m worried this is an attempt to convince Yemenis that the U.S. and Yemen have turned a corner and are in the process of destroying AQAP. At this hour, the numbers of militants being reported as being killed keeps changing, and we still aren’t sure if any civilians have been killed or wounded in these strikes.”
A Reuters report placed the death toll on Sunday at 30 which, with the strikes on Saturday, brings a potential total of 40 dead this weekend. According to local tribe sources, at least 25 bodies were recovered and transferred to nearby towns. It was not revealed if these were the bodies of al-Qaida militants or Yemeni Civilians.
There is no confirmation if drones were involved in this weekend’s attacks. Yemen is one of the few counties where the United States operates and performs drone strikes. Yemen President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi was quoted by the BBC praising the US for its efforts as they “have greatly helped in limiting Al-Qaeda activities, despite some mistakes, which we are sorry about.” However, the Yemeni legislature has banned US drones after strikes killed over a dozen civilians in December.
Some over Twitter were less than pleased with the idea of more drone strikes in Yemen:
— Renata Avila (@avilarenata) April 21, 2014
The attacks come after an internet video surfaced showing al-Qaida members greeting recently freed prisoners. The Times of India reported that leader Nasser al-Wuhaishi vowed “to remove the cross, (and) the bearer of the cross, America.” The authenticity of the video could not be verified.
Image via ABC News, YouTube