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A U.S. drone strike killed several suspected al-Qaeda militants on Saturday in Yemen, according to a Yemeni military official.
The strike, which targeted a truck in the Sawmaa area, killed nine militants, reports The Associated Press. At least three civilians were killed and several more were injured because of the attack.
The strike came only a few days after suspected al-Qaeda militants assassinated the al-Bayda deputy governor. Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen (known as AQAP) are generally viewed as the most dangerous affiliate.
The Yemen Defense Ministry views the drone strike as successful as three senior operatives were allegedly killed, according to CNN. A senior Defense Military official said, "The militants were on a coordinating mission and we have had our eyes on them for quite a while now."
A witness to the strike, Salem al-Kashm, said, "Our vehicle was 15 meters from the attacked pickup, and the shrapnel from the strike poured on our car." He said a second strike ended up killing three friends and the drone remained in the area to make sure none of the suspected militants were still alive.
Yemen citizens and those in the government remained divided on letting the U.S. conduct drone strikes in the country. Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi supports letting the country protect itself, while President Abdu Rabu Hadi sees the al-Qaeda militants as too dangerous to handle alone.