Yemeni security officials say U.S. drones and fighter jets attacked suspected Islamist militants in the southern province of Abyan Thursday, killing at least seven fighters in a police station they had taken over.
The airstrikes took place before dawn in the town of Mudiya. Dozens of Islamist fighters rushed to the scene to evacuate the wounded and search for the dead.
The New York Times also cites U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as confirming the strikes, which are rarely acknowledged publicly.
The attacks targeted a region where radical groups believed to have links to al-Qaida are exploiting Yemen’s political upheaval to take over entire towns.
The United States provides military aid to Yemen in exchange for Yemeni cooperation in fighting al-Qaida militants based in lawless parts of the impoverished country.
The militants, some linked to al-Qaida, have taken control of several towns in southern Yemen in recent months, as government forces confront a five-month-old opposition uprising in other parts of the country.
The protesters have been demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year autocratic rule.