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U.S. airstrike kills 2 militants in Yemen

Dec. 24, 2012 - 10:43AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 24, 2012 - 10:43AM  |  
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SANAA, Yemen — A U.S. drone airstrike killed two al-Qaida militants Monday in a southern town, Yemeni security officials said, the latest in a years-long U.S. offensive against the branch the U.S. considers the violent extremists' most dangerous.

One of the dead was a midlevel al-Qaida Yemeni operative who escaped a U.S. drone attack 10 years ago, the officials said. The other was said to be a Jordanian.

They said the airstrike on Radda in Bayda province also critically injured three militants.

The Yemeni militant, Abdel-Raouf Naseeb, escaped death in the first recorded drone attack in Yemen, on Nov. 3, 2002. That strike killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, suspected of masterminding the October 2000 attack against the destroyer Cole in a Yemen port.

A member of the Naseeb family confirmed his death to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity fearing government reprisal.

Al-Qaida in Yemen was behind several failed attacks in the U.S., including the 2009 "Christmas Day bombing" over Detroit, when a man on a passenger plane tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear.

Earlier this year, a band of al-Qaida militants captured Radda and raised the black al-Qaida flag over an ancient castle that overlooks the town. They also stormed the local jail and freed around 150 inmates, including an unspecified number loyal to al-Qaida. But tribal leaders eventually forced the militants out with the help of the Yemeni army.

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