US drones kill top Yemeni militants

US department of homeland securityAt least 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants have been killed in Yemen in three drone strikes presumed carried out by the US, officials say.

The number of such strikes in Yemen has been stepped up over the past month. The latest attacks come a day after Yemeni authorities said they had foiled a major al-Qaeda plot against oil pipelines and ports.

Yemen is deemed a stronghold of an al-Qaeda offshoot considered by Washington to be the most dangerous to the West.

In the latest strike on Thursday evening, Yemeni officials told BBC Arabic that a drone targeted a group of suspected militants, killing four of them in Wadi al-Jadd in the southern province of Hadramout.

Two strikes earlier in the day in Marib and Hadramout provinces killed 10 suspected militants, the security officials said.

On Wednesday, another seven people died in a drone attack.

While the US has acknowledged targeting militants in Yemen with drones, it does not comment publicly on its policy or the raids.

About 30 suspected militants have been killed in a series of such raids in Yemen since 28 July, news agencies report.

Earlier this week Yemeni security forces were placed on high alert amid fears of an al-Qaeda-linked attack that prompted Western embassies to close.

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