Qaeda threatens to hit back over Yemen drone strikes


A reproduction of a combo of two pictures of a suspected military chief of al-Qaeda network in Yemen, identified as Qassem al-Rimi, shows the activist on a Yemeni interior ministry document in two different undated images.

SANAA - Al-Qaeda in Yemen threatened on Friday to hit back at the authorities after a wave of deadly drone attacks in the latest government offensive against the jihadists.
The warning from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula chief Qassem al-Rimi came in a video posted online.
Rimi said AQAP -- which Washington sees as the deadliest branch of the Al-Qaeda franchise -- would attack "any establishment, ministry, camp or barracks" linked to placing devices on vehicles to enable them to be targeted by US drones "or for acting as an intermediary with the Americans".
"For us, all such establishments are legitimate targets. We won&39;t wait for them to come to us -- we will go to them," he said.
Rimi said his group had "a long list of those implicated in such operations... who will pay the price".
AQAP fighters are frequently targeted by US-operated drones in Yemen, whose use has been defended by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
The militants have launched a series of spectacular raids over the past few months, including targeting an army headquarters in the southern port of Aden last month in an attack that killed 20 people.
AQAP said it attacked the intelligence complex because of its role in coordinating US drone attacks.
The group has been subjected to an intensifying drone war this year.
Only the United States operates such warplanes in the region.
On Tuesday the army began an offensive against AQAP hideouts, mainly in the south where the militants are strongly rooted.
The latest campaign by government forces comes 10 days after a wave of drone and other air attacks on Al-Qaeda bases and training camps killed around 60 militants.
The jihadist group denounced the offensive as a "premeditated military escalation" that came after "the Yemeni defence minister visited Washington to receive the orders of his American masters".
AQAP -- a merger of the network&39;s Yemeni and Saudi branches -- also denied remarks by Hadi who said that 70 percent of the fighters are foreigners.
"It is a lie," it said, stressing that the "majority of mujahedeen" fighting in AQAP ranks are Yemeni.
The jihadists took advantage of a 2011 uprising that forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of the south and east of the country.

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