Yemen leader asks US for drone technology
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Last Updated: Saturday, August 24, 2013, 00:21
Sanaa (Yemen): A suicide car bomb killed two soldiers on Friday at a checkpoint in Yemen's south, officials say, as the country's leader makes public his request to the US for drone technology to boost local efforts against militants.

The security official said six soldiers were also wounded in the attack, with the bomber blowing up his explosives-rigged car after he was stopped at a checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Shibam, in Hadramawt province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity following official guidelines.

The attack had all the hallmarks of al Qaeda's Yemeni branch, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Washington considers the branch one of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told police cadets yesterday that the US drones have been carrying out attacks in Yemen in accordance with an agreement to combat terrorism signed by the United States and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh after the September 11 attacks.

"Cooperation (with the US) in the field of combating terrorism is not a secret as we take part in the operation room in Djibouti and we have officers in Bahrain's operation room with other world countries," he said.

The president said the US drone attacks "have widely curtailed al Qaeda activities."

Hadi said he asked Washington during his trip there earlier this month to provide his country with drones.

"Yemenis are smart. They will learn fast," he said, in a speech aired on state TV.

There has been a spike since late July in drone strikes in the country targeting al Qaeda.

While the US acknowledges its drone program in Yemen, it does not usually talk about individual strikes. The program is run by the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA, with the military flying its drones out of Djibouti, and the CIA out of a base in Saudi Arabia.

Two drone attacks killed six suspected militants of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni branch is known, in Hadramawt earlier this month.

Hadi also said news about civilians killed in drone attacks were exaggerated, while referring to an air strike in 2009 in Abyan province that killed many civilians. Hadi said it was caused by a cruise missile and not a drone but did not elaborate.


First Published: Saturday, August 24, 2013, 00:21

Tag: YemenUS
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