SANAA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. drones raided several hideouts of the Yemen-based al-Qaida wing in the southeast restive province of al-Bayda on Friday night, killing at least 20 al-Qaida militants, a local security official told Xinhua.
"Two U.S. drones fired several missiles on a number of al-Qaida hideouts in Jabra area of al-Zahir district in al-Bayda province, killing at least 20 al-Qaida members," the official told Xinhua by phone on condition of anonymity. "The casualties among the militants were based on an initial security report from the targeted area right now," he added without elaborating further details. A spokesman of al-Qaida group told Xinhua that "more than two U. S. drones are still striking several posts of al-Qaida in three villages outside al-Bayda's central city, and we do not have yet confirmed information on casualties."
He said that they will release initial information in a statement late on Friday night.
Al-Bayda province, some 170 km southeast of the capital Sanaa, has witnessed in the past two months a remarkable progress by the Yemeni government against Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of the Islamic Law), a local arm of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP).
Earlier this week, AQAP militants launched a string of suicide attacks against the government troops in the southern province of Abyan, killing at least 200 soldiers and capturing 73 others.
Since late January 2011, when protests erupted against former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, AQAP has been working to bolster their presence in the country's remote regions.
AQAP, entrenching itself mainly in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.
The Yemeni newly-elected President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced on Monday that his government is determined to confront terrorism with full force, saying "whatever it will take, we will continue to hunt terrorists down to their final hideout."