US warplanes pounded Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen for a second straight day Friday, killing eight militants, security and tribal sources said as Washington boosts its air war against the terrorists.
A defense official in Washington told AFP that American forces conducted “about 10” strikes in Yemen on Friday.
The attacks hit similar targets as on Thursday — weapons caches, fighters and military equipment, the official said.
Residents said US soldiers fought two separate gunbattles overnight with Al-Qaeda militants, supported by heavy aerial bombardment.
Troops descended on the Wadi Yashbum village in the southern Shabwah province and engaged suspected Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants for nearly half an hour, the residents said.
One of the targets in the raid, shortly after midnight, was the home of Saad Atef, an Al-Qaeda leader in the area. The assault included about 10 to 15 airstrikes, some of which hit civilian homes, and a number of civilians were among the wounded, residents said.
About three hours later, residents in the Jabal Mugan area of neighboring Abyan province reported airstrikes and gunbattles between suspected Al-Qaeda fighters and US soldiers that also lasted about half an hour.
Security officials in the area said eight militants were killed, and tribal sources said that women and children were wounded.
Terrorists retaliated with anti-aircraft fire, security officials and tribal sources said, adding that US helicopters also took part in the operation. One resident said it had been a “terrifying night.”
However, a US official denied reports that American forces had been engaged in ground combat or conducting raids.
“I know there have been reports of firefights, raids, there have not been any that US forces have been involved in — not since the one you know about,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told a news briefing, adding that since Thursday there had been about 30 US strikes in total against the group.
A senior Yemeni official described the strikes as “open-ended” and said they raised questions about the objectives of such an operation.