SANA, Yemen — Two US drone strikes Wednesday killed at least five suspected al Qaeda militants and destroyed the house of another in a mountainous area south of the capital city of Sana, a Yemeni security official and witnesses said.
Four were killed in the first strike while riding a vehicle in the desert area of Oussab al-Ali, about 90 miles south of Sana, the official said.
The second strike killed a fifth suspected jihadist, Hamed Radman. A drone bombed his house, the official said.
Radman is known to security authorities as an influential al Qaeda member and played a role in recruitment, he said.
A witness in a nearby village said he saw columns of smoke rising after two explosions rocked the area.
The region south of the Yemeni capital has become a hideout for the militants.
He said that US drones have been flying over his village for three days and are still in the sky.
The region, shaped like a triangle and located in the middle of three provinces of central Damar, southern Ibb, and eastern Hodeida, has become a hideout for al Qaeda militants since the Yemeni government intensified its offensive against their former strongholds in the south during the past several months.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
In Sana, Yemeni authorities have raided houses of suspected al Qaeda members in the past 48 hours, arresting more than 15, including a man whose brother was killed in one of the drone strikes in southern city of Abyan in the past months, the official said.
The arrests are part of tightening security measures in Sana in the vicinity of the foreign embassies, companies, and hotels.
Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered the group’s most dangerous.