SANA, Yemen — Two airstrikes Thursday in south Yemen killed seven al-Qaida militants, including two top operatives, officials said. Yemeni soldiers, meanwhile, shelled a gathering of al-Qaida fighters elsewhere in the south, killing 10 militants.
The attacks could be another setback for al-Qaida, coming soon after details emerged about a Saudi mole in the network who reportedly provided information allowing the CIA to target a key leader of Yemen's terror branch. Thursday's strikes hit in the town of Jaar and northeast of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, Yemeni security officials said.
There was no immediate word from Washington on whether it was behind the airstrikes. The two areas hit are part of large swaths of territory in the south that have been held by al-Qaida for a year.
The U.S. and Yemen have resumed cooperation in the fight against al-Qaida, which has taken advantage of Yemen's political turmoil to capture territory and plot attacks against American targets. Cooperation was suspended nearly a year ago during the popular uprising against the authoritarian regime of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.