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Six al Qaeda militants were killed in an air strike in northern Yemen Friday in a stepped-up government campaign against the Islamist group.

Yemen, which gained a reputation as a haven for al Qaeda after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, came under the spotlight after crackdowns on the group in Pakistan and Afghanistan raised concern it was becoming a training and recruiting center for militants.

“Two cars carrying eight dangerous al Qaeda members were hit in an area between Saada and al-Jouf,” a Yemeni security official told Reuters. “Two may have survived and escaped.”

“The group included Qassem al-Remi, Ayed al-Shabwani, Ammar al-Waeli, and Saleh al-Teys,” the official said. The four were wanted by the Yemeni and U.S. security services.

Al-Shabwani was one of the most dangerous al Qaeda members who provided a hideout for other militants at his farm in Maarib, where their training took place, the official said.

Maarib is a mountainous eastern province where the oil and gas fields of major international companies are located. Reuters

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