ADEN, Yemen — A suspected US spy drone crashed near the south Yemen town of Loder on Tuesday, a police official said, while witnesses said that Al-Qaeda forces were able to make off with the plane's wreckage.
The drone crashed in the village of Jahayn near Loder, in Yemen's Abyan province where Al-Qaeda has a strong presence, and was discovered by residents early on Tuesday, the official told AFP.
Witnesses told AFP that Al-Qaeda jihadists were able to seize what remained of the drone.
The police official said that the drone was of the Predator type, which can be used for reconnaissance but also can be armed with missiles. Predator drones have been widely used by the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Washington Post reported in November that President Barack Obama's administration has deployed unmanned Predator drones in Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda operatives.
But citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said US military and intelligence operatives have not fired missiles from these aircraft because they lack solid intelligence on the militants' whereabouts.
Yemen has come under intense pressure to crack down on Al-Qaeda's local franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), since a December 2009 attempt to blow up a US airliner that was claimed by AQAP and allegedly carried out by a Nigerian student said to have trained in Yemen.
Two parcel bombs posted from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago were uncovered in Dubai and Britain on October 28, sparking a global scare.
In addition to an Al-Qaeda threat, impoverished Yemen must contend with a secessionist movement in the south and a sporadic rebellion by Zaidi Shiites in the north.