Yemeni armed forces have killed the deputy leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a defense ministry website. Yemen and the US have been cooperating in a major offensive against the terrorist group.
Yemen's Defense Ministry said on Monday that Saeed al-Shehri, al Qaeda's No. 2 in Yemen, had been killed along with at least five other militants during a raid by government forces in Hadramout Province in the country's east.
"Shehri's death deals a painful blow to what's left of the terrorist elements," said the Defense Ministry website 26sept.net.
Al-Shehri, a Saudi national, had previously been detained by the US at the Guantanamo Bay facility, but was released in 2007 and handed over to Saudi Arabia, where he went through a rehabilitation program.
Yemen sank into chaos during the 2011 popular uprising that led to the ouster of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, a close ally in Washington's campaign against al Qaeda militants. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) exploited that chaos to seize larges swathes of the country.
Since President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi took the reigns of power in February, Yemen has launched a major offensive against AQAP, considered al Qaeda's most dangerous branch by Washington.
Washington has also ramped up its campaign of drone strikes in Yemen, targeting senior leaders of AQAP.
slk/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)