SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al-Qaida militants in Yemen killed two men accused of spying for the United States and hung their bodies off a bridge on Wednesday, a day after the jihadi group announced the death of its leader in a U.S. drone strike.
Witnesses said al-Qaida gunmen in the southern city of Mukalla read out charges before shooting the two men, one of whom was accused of guiding the U.S. drone that killed commander Nasr al-Ansi and a media liaison known as Muhannad Ghalab in April.
Al-Qaida supporters posted pictures online that showed the two men blindfolded on a sandy beach, said to be the site of a previous drone strike. Another picture showed a body in bloody clothes with its arms spread apart and lashed to a pole, dangling off the side of a bridge.
The killings came a day after al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni affiliate is known, said its leader, Nasir al-Wahishi, was killed in a U.S. drone strike last week.
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Al-Qaida captured Mukalla in April after Yemen’s army splintered between allies and opponents of Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who captured the capital last year. But the city has proven to be something of a death trap, with U.S. drone strikes in and around Mukalla killing not only al-Wahishi and al-Ansi, but also a senior religious ideologue, Ibrahim al-Rubaish.
In series of online postings, al-Qaida members said one of the two men shot dead Wednesday was a Saudi national loyal to the Islamic State, an al-Qaida breakaway group that controls vast swaths of Iraq and Syria. They identified him as Musaed al-Khaweitar, saying he ran an al-Qaida-linked media outlet and was close to top leaders.
The second man, identified as Abu Ayman al-Mutairi, is also believed to be Saudi.
AQAP is widely seen as the terror network’s most dangerous offshoot, and claimed the attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, which killed 12 people. It has also been linked to a number of attempts to attack the United States with bombs snuck past airport security.