US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi reportedly killed in Yemen
Yemen’s Defence Ministry says radical US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has been killed along with several other suspected Al-Qaeda operatives. No details were given of his death, but tribal sources claim he was killed in an air strike on two vehicles in Marib province, an Al-Qaeda stronghold in eastern Yemen, early Friday.
The announcement is the second time the defence ministry has reported Awlaqi's death. Last December, the Yemeni government said he had been killed in an air strike, but he was later revealed to be still alive.
One tribal source told the French news agency the plane that carried out the strike was
likely to be American, saying US aircraft had been patrolling the skies over Marib for the past several days.
Until three weeks ago Awlaqi was believed to be hiding out in the southern Shabwa province, another militant bastion, but he was said to have moved to Marib province sometime since then.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the United States is building an array of secret new drone bases to conduct strikes against Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen and Somalia.
Yemeni authorities officially deny the use of drones against Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen, saying Washington provides only logistical support to Sanaa's fight against extremists.
Awlaqi, a US-Yemeni citizen who had eluded capture for years, was believed to be a key leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP.
In April last year, a US official said President Barack Obama's administration had authorised his killing, after American intelligence agencies concluded the cleric was directly involved in anti-US plots.
US intelligence officials say Awlaqi was linked to a US army major who allegedly shot dead 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and to a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a US airliner on 25 December, 2009.
He is the first American citizen to appear on the CIA wanted list.