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Feb 28, 1:49 PM EST

US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters


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US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters

Hadi, once-quiet leader of Yemen, strikes newly defiant pose

Yemen's neighbors warn of action if world fails to intervene

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SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- A suspected U.S. drone strike Saturday in central Yemen killed three men believed to be al-Qaida militants, security officials said.

The officials said the attack took place in the town of Bihan in Yemen's Shabwa province and that the nationalities of the men killed had not been established. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.

The U.S. has launched several strikes in recent weeks, reflecting Washington's resolve to keep fighting the militants despite Yemen's political paralysis. A Shiite rebel power grab forced the president to flee the capital and run the country from the southern city of Aden.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as its Yemeni affiliate is known, is considered by Washington as the network's most dangerous franchise.

Meanwhile Saturday, the Shiite rebels who control Yemen's capital, Sanaa, signed an agreement with Iranian authorities in Tehran to set up direct flights between the two countries, the nation's official news agency reported.

The memorandum of understanding between aviation officials from the two countries calls for 14 flights per week from each side, according to the SABA news agency, controlled by the Shiite rebels known as Houthis. Officials also discussed training for Yemenis in the aviation sector, it added.

The rebels, who stormed into the capital, Sanaa, last September, are widely believed to have support from regional Shiite power Iran. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi managed to escape Sanaa and house arrest at the hands of the rebels and has established a base in the southern city of Aden, from where he says he is still the country's rightful ruler.

Also Saturday, Bahrain announced it was relocating its embassy in Yemen to Aden, a move aimed at supporting Hadi. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have done the same since Friday.

Thousands of anti-Houthi protesters also marched in five provinces - Taiz, Ibb, Dhamar, Sanaa and Hodeida.

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