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Nine militants die in Yemen drone strike

Jan. 31, 2012 at 7:43 AM

SANAA, Yemen, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Security officials in Yemen said Tuesday nine militants were killed in a suspected drone strike on a militant target in southern Yemen.

The strike occurred in Abyan province near areas that were taken over in May by Ansar al-Shariah, a militant group with links to al-Qaida, CNN reported.

The group had declared Abyan an Islamic emirate and called for the implementation of Shariah law.

Yemen's efforts to wrest the province from the hands of the militants has resulted in hundreds of deaths, the country's defense ministry said.

Two security officials told CNN Monday night's drones belonged to the United States.

U.S. officials rarely discuss the drone program though privately they have said the covert strikes are legal and an effective tactic in the fight against extremists.

A CIA-operated drone killed American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in September.

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