SANAA, Yemen

Deaths from militant attack in city of Aden rise to 20

The death toll of an al-Qaida suspected attack on a Yemeni intelligence headquarters rose to 20 on Saturday, in the worst such attack in a year.

The attack, in the heart of the port city of Aden, underscored al-Qaida’s ability to launch deadly strikes despite a two-month Yemeni military offensive backed by the United States that earlier this year dislodged militants who had taken over a string of southern towns near Aden.

Two groups of masked militants stormed the intelligence building from two sides, firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, according to intelligence officials in the city and witnesses from the adjacent state TV and radio building.

As one group clashed with guards at the intelligence building’s main gate, a second threw a bomb at a small mosque, killing soldiers who were resting inside, officials said. The gunmen then sprayed their victims with bullets before detonating a car bomb in front of the intelligence building.


Missile launched from drone kills five militant supporters

A missile launched from a U.S. drone struck a suspected militant hideout in northern Pakistan where allies of a powerful warlord were gathered Saturday, killing five of his supporters, Pakistani officials said.

The strike in North Waziristan against allies of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a militant commander whose forces frequently target U.S. and other NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, comes amid speculation over whether Pakistan will launch an operation against militants in the tribal region.

The United States has pushed Pakistan repeatedly to take such a step, and last week U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Pakistan was preparing an operation targeting the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan.

Pakistan has been reluctant to undertake an offensive there, saying its military is already overtaxed by fighting in other tribal areas and parts of Pakistan. But many in the United States believe Pakistan does not want to upset the many militant groups there such as the Haqqani network that could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign forces leave.


Former tropical storm heads inland after making landfall

Former Tropical Storm Helene headed inland on Mexico’s Gulf Coast early Saturday after making landfall and quickly losing strength, falling to a tropical depression.

Helene still posed a threat to areas where thousands of people were recovering from recent flooding spawned by Hurricane Ernesto. But the Veracruz state civil defense office said none of the region’s numerous rivers had yet reached flood stage.

In the port city of Veracruz, at least two low-lying neighborhoods reported some streets flooded.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the depression was just south of the port city of Tampico, with winds of about 35 mph. It was moving northwest but was expected to take a more northerly track before dissipating.


Storms hamper firefighters trying to contain large blaze

Thunderstorms and lightning threatened fire officials’ plans to contain a large blaze in central Washington state as hundreds of Washington and California residents returned home to find out whether their homes were spared.

In Idaho, authorities Saturday issued a mandatory evacuation order for some 350 homes around Featherville due to thick smoke. That town and Pine, both recreation getaways in the mountains 105 miles northeast of Boise, remained in the path of a 130-square-mile wildfire that has been burning for two weeks.

Fire managers were concerned that poor visibility could hamper the evacuation process, fire spokesman David Eaker said.

The Trinity Ridge Fire burning through timber grew 15 square miles overnight. High temperatures combined with low humidity and difficult terrain made it harder for the 1,082 firefighters assigned to the blaze.

To the west, many residents in Washington state were returning to the south and east sides of a 35-square-mile blaze near the town of Cle Elum in the Cascade Range, about 75 miles east of Seattle. That fire burned out of control for much of the week, destroying 70 residential properties and 210 other structures on the east side of the Cascades.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters and other personnel and eight helicopters were still building a line around the fire, which started Monday at a bridge construction project and exploded through dry grass, brush and trees.

— From news service reports