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US Says Strike in Yemen Kills Three al-Qaida Fighters

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FILE - Yemeni boys look at a vehicle destroyed during a police raid on an al-Qaida militant hideout in the Arhab region, north of Sanaa, Yemen, May 27, 2014.

FILE - Yemeni boys look at a vehicle destroyed during a police raid on an al-Qaida militant hideout in the Arhab region, north of Sanaa, Yemen, May 27, 2014.

The U.S. military says it killed three al-Qaida operatives in a counterterrorism strike in Yemen.

The U.S. Central Command did not say how the strike was conducted, nor did it reveal the identities of those killed.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. Central Command said the strike occurred in the Shabwa province in central Yemen against fighters of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The U.S. military has previously carried out numerous drone strikes in Yemen against Islamist militants.

"AQAP remains a significant threat to the region, the United States and beyond. Al-Qaida's presence has a destabilizing effect on Yemen; it is using the unrest in Yemen to provide a haven from which to plan future attacks against our allies as well as the U.S. and its interests," the Central Command statement said.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized Yemen's capital, Sana'a, in 2014, forcing the internationally recognized Yemeni government to flee to Saudi Arabia before returning to set up in the port city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign against the Houthi rebels in March 2015 that, coupled with a naval and air embargo on Yemen, has caused large shortages of food and fuel.

Islamist militants have exploited a power vacuum created by the conflict.

According to the latest figures released by the U.N. human rights office, more than 3,500 people have been killed and nearly 6,300 wounded in Yemen since the beginning of Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign. The United Nations says 80 percent of Yemeni civilians urgently need food and medical help.

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