US intensifies strikes at Qaeda targets
The US military conducted in May a secret air strike against a suspected al-Qaeda target in Yemen and killed a deputy provincial governor in the process, The New York Times reported late Saturday.
Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the air strike hit a group of suspected operatives for al-Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province.
But it also killed the province's deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk al-Qaeda members into giving up their fight, the report said.
Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes, the paper noted.
According to The Times, the strike was a secret mission by the US military, and it was at least the fourth such assault on al-Qaeda in the mountains and deserts of Yemen since December.
The paper said the United States has now significantly increased military and intelligence operations in areas ranging from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan and to former Soviet republics.
It is pursuing militants with robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists, the report said.
Virtually none of the newly aggressive steps undertaken by the United States government have been publicly acknowledged, the paper said.