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US Drone Kills Top al-Qaida Militant in Yemen

  • VOA News

The Yemen branch of al-Qaida says one of its top commanders, Harith al-Nadhari, was killed in a U.S. air strike in the country's south.

Nadhari and three other militants were killed while travelling in a car last week in the southern province of Shabwa, al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The January 31 airstrike was the second U.S. drone strike in recent days. The United States is the only country known to be operating drones in Yemen.

Nadhari was an AQAP advisor on legal and religious affairs. He was most recently seen on video praising last month's deadly attack on France's Charlie Hebdo newspaper that left 12 dead.

The militant group has claimed responsibility for the Paris attack and has vowed to carry out similar ones ones in the future.

The drone strike comes as Yemen has been struggling with major political instability. Last month, Houthi rebels took over the residence of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, prompting him and his Cabinet to resign.

The failure of a truce between the Houthi militia and the government of the U.S.-backed Hadi sparked reports that Washington would suspend counterterrorism operations until the situation stabilized.

Despite the crisis, U.S. President Barack Obama say their would be no let up, saying the United States would continue to pursue "high value targets inside Yemen."