Officials say US warships fired on al-Qaida; US denies
SANAA, Yemen (AP):
Yemeni security officials said yesterday that warships, which they believe to be American, have been firing cannons and rockets at al-Qaida militants in the country's southern coastal areas.
But the United States promptly denied the allegations, with Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, saying US warships were not involved.
According to the Yemeni officials, the naval strikes have been underway for five days and targeted mountainous areas north of the coastal town of Shakra where militants have been massing fighters.
Dozens of al-Qaida fighters are assembling there as well as north of the nearby town of Zinjibar, the officials added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters. They also said that al-Qaida militants yesterday attacked the town of Lauder, further to the east, killing six Yemeni soldiers.
US officials said they were unaware of any firing in the southern Yemeni coastal region in the last several days. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Al-Qaida in Yemen, long seen by Washington as of the most dangerous of the group's offshoots, has exploited the chaos of Yemen's civil war to seize territory in the country's south and east, and the Islamic State group has also claimed attacks.