SANA'A, Yemen - Two air strikes Thursday in south Yemen killed seven al-Qaeda militants, including two top operatives, officials said. Yemeni soldiers, meanwhile, shelled a gathering of al-Qaeda fighters elsewhere in the south, killing 10 militants.
The attacks could be another setback for al-Qaeda, coming just days after details emerged about a Saudi mole within the network who reportedly provided information allowing the CIA to target a key leader of Yemen's terror branch.
Thursday's air strikes hit in the town of Jaar and northeast of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, Yemeni security officials said.
The United States has usually used drones to strike al-Qaeda in Yemen. Yemeni officials said that one of the raids was carried out by a drone but provided no details on the other.
The United States and Yemen have resumed cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda, which has taken advantage of Yemen's political turmoil to capture territory and plot attacks against American targets. Cooperation was suspended nearly a year ago during the popular uprising against the authoritarian regime of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The first strike Thursday killed five militants, hitting a house on the western outskirts of Jaar where they were staying and leveling the structure.
One of those killed was a senior member of the terror network in charge of armament, known by his moniker al-Galadi, Yemeni officials said.
The second air strike hit in Shaqra, northeast of Zinjbar, killing two militants, the Yemeni officials said. They said one of those killed was al-Qaeda's second-in-command for Lawder, a town farther north that was controlled by the group last year until its residents drove the militants out. The militants have since been trying to stage a comeback there.