A US drone strike killed two suspected members of al-Qaeda in southern Yemen on Saturday, a security official said, as Washington steps up the campaign against the militants.
The raid Ahwar, in the southern province of Abyan, came after two days of intensive airstrikes by US warplanes on militants in the war-torn country.
The two suspected militants were on a motorbike at the time of the strike, the security official added.
On Friday, the Pentagon said it carried out “somewhere over 30” strikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in just two days, conducted in partnership with the Yemeni government.
“This is part of a plan to go after this very real threat and ensure that they are defeated and denied the opportunity to plot and carry out terrorist attacks from ungoverned spaces,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said on Friday, noting the US would continue to attack AQAP.
Yemeni officials and tribal sources said at least 20 militants were killed in the airstrikes on Thursday and Friday in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa and the nearby central province of Baida.
The increased bombing comes a little more than a month after a botched American raid against AQAP left multiple civilians and a US Navy SEAL dead.
The 29 January raid was the first authorised by President Donald Trump, and he drew criticism after he blamed “the generals” for having “lost” Navy SEAL Ryan Owens.
Six children were killed in the controversial raid.
Al-Qaeda has exploited a power vacuum created by two years of war between Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels who control the capital and some major cities along the Red Sea coast.
The US periodically sends small teams of commandos into Yemen, primarily to gather intelligence, but Davis said no Americans had been involved in any ground combat operations as part of the strikes.
Successive US administrations have kept up a drone war against al-Qaeda in Yemen since soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Washington regards the Yemen branch to be the militants’ most dangerous, and holds it responsible for several plots to stage attacks in the West.