Yemen airstrike against al-Qaeda

Yemen says it launched an airstrike against al-Qaeda in the Moudia district of Abyan province yesterday.

"Our air force carried out a raid on terrorist elements who were planning attacks on vital installations (and) two al-Qaeda leaders were killed," a defence ministry statement said. There are no further details at present, though al-Jazeera, via Reuters, suggests there may have been civilian casualties.

On Saturday, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)announced that one of its senior leaders, Ibrahim Saleh Mujahid al-Khalifa (aka Abu-Jandal al-Qusaimi) was killed "in clashes with the Yemeni security forces when he led his Saudi-Yemeni group of al-Qaeda fighters to attack a government security checkpoint in a southern Yemeni province". 

There was no indication of when or exactly where the incident happened.

The statement, issued by al-Malahim Media Foundation and posted on Islamist websites, described Qusaini, a Saudi, as a fundraiser for AQAP who was "also the coordinator behind smuggling groups of wanted Saudi militants to Yemen through the Saudi-Yemeni joint border".

Meanwhile, in Abyan province, another southern separatist has been shot dead. Wadie Juneidy (or Zain al-Jonidy), who was "wanted in connection with burglary, blocking roads, looting and rebel acts", died in an exchange of gunfire with security forces on Saturday, according the the official Saba news agency.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 15 March 2010.