USA intelligence officials are now trying to identify hundreds of al-Qaida operatives with contacts gleaned from a late night Jan 29 raid by Navy SEAL team 6 deep inside Yemen, CNN reports.
A USA official told AFP that Tuesday's strikes had been planned months ago and were unrelated to the controversial raid, which the White House has repeatedly claimed was a success that yielded crucial intelligence, despite global condemnation.
It was not immediately clear if the strikes were conducted against targets that were identified using information collected from the January raid that left one member of the Navy's SEAL Team 6 dead and three others wounded, and that killed about two dozen civilians.
The U.S government considers AQAP to be the most unsafe al-Qaeda branch because of its emphasis and reputation for plotting attacks on overseas targets.
The officials also said several al Qaeda personnel were killed, but did not elaborate.
The strikes, which were conducted overnight in a mountainous region where the provinces of Bayda, Shabwa and Abyan converge, targeted buildings, weapon systems, fighters and equipment along Yemen's southern coastal area, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
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A USA defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the Pentagon is not required to announce every strike conducted in Yemen. The raid in Shabwa destroyed a house known in the area as one where al-Qaida militants lived.
There were no immediate details available on damages or casualties caused by those strikes. According to media reports, the operation's goal was to capture or kill the group's leader Qassim Rimi, who is considered the third most unsafe terrorist in the world and a master recruiter. Yemeni media have also reported up to 25 civilians, including children, were killed during a gun battle between Marines and al-Qaida militants.
The strikes come barely a month after a controversial American commando raid against the extremists in which several civilians and a USA commando were killed.
On Thursday, CNN, citing USA officials, said the U.S.is seeking to find and monitor various individuals based on intelligence from computer discs and other material brought back from the raid, which critics have charged was planned in haste and poorly coordinated.
"I was outraged that humanitarian efforts to reach people in need were once again thwarted by parties to the conflict, especially at a time when millions of Yemenis are severely food insecure and face the risk of starvation", he said.