As a security alert kept millions on edge throughout the Muslim world, suspected U.S. drone attacks in Yemen killed 12 alleged militants Thursday, and Saudi security forces arrested two foreign men they said were plotting suicide attacks in the region.
The drone strikes and the arrests in Saudi Arabia of a Yemeni and a Chadian — reported to have issued "messages of incitement and hatred" through social media — reflected the intense vigilance pervading police and military forces across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The three drone strikes in Yemen brought the total since July 27 to eight and the death toll to 34. The stepped-up pace of targeted killings may be thinning the ranks of al-Qaida-aligned extremists, but it has also intensified anger among Yemeni citizens who consider the aerial bombardments a violation of their sovereignty and a reckless practice that at times kills innocents.
The latest drone strikes were reported by the Yemen Post, among other media, which took note of the growing public alarm over the rockets fired from unmanned aircraft.
Yemeni authorities tolerate the strikes as they work with U.S. special operations forces to drive out al-Qaida-affiliated militants who took refuge in the mountainous hinterlands two years ago, when the country was racked by widespread protests against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The autocrat who ruled for more than 30 years was forced out early last year and replaced by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
On Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency reported the arrest of two men it said had "recruited themselves" and discussed via social media plans to launch suicide operations. Neither the nature nor the targets of the alleged plot were disclosed.