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US drone kills 2 Al Qaeda militants in Yemen

SANA, Yemen — A US drone airstrike killed two Al Qaeda militants Monday in a southern town, Yemeni security officials said, the latest in a years-long offensive against the branch the United States considers the violent extremists’ most dangerous.

One of the dead was a mid-level Al Qaeda Yemeni operative who had escaped a drone attack 10 years ago, the officials said. The other was said to be a Jordanian.

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They said the airstrike on Radda in Bayda province 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 USS Cole warship in a Yemen port.

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

Al Qaeda in Yemen was behind several failed attacks in the United States, including the 2009 Christmas day attempt by a Nigerian passenger to blow up a plane over Detroit with a bomb in his underwear.

Earlier this year, a band of Al Qaeda militants captured Radda and raised the black Al Qaeda flag over an ancient castle that looks over the town. They also stormed the local jail and freed about 150 inmates, but tribal leaders eventually forced the militants out with the help of the army.

Also Monday, four tribesmen were killed in Yemeni artillery­ strikes on areas in the northeastern province of Marib, where armed tribesmen, who maintain ties with Al Qaeda, have been accused of attacks on oil pipelines and power generating stations, security officials said.

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