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Air strikes in Yemen kill 45 suspected Qaeda militants

Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile

By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf

U.S. drone attacks killed at least 25 al Qaeda-linked fighters including one of their leaders while a Yemeni air force raid killed 20 more in the south, sources said on Saturday, in the biggest airstrikes since Yemen’s new president took office.

Militants have expanded their operations in southern Yemen during months of turmoil which paralysed the country and eventually unseated former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was replaced in a February vote by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Local residents in Jaar, a southern town seized by militants in March last year, said Yemen’s air force had killed 20 al Qaeda-linked fighters at a military base, also destroying weapons and military equipment.

Last week, the fighters had seized the base from the government and confiscated weaponry and military equipment.

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