"We in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) mourn to our Muslim nation ... that Abu Baseer Nasser bin Abdul Karim al-Wuhayshi, God rest his soul, passed away in an American strike which targeted him along with two of his mujahideen brothers, may God rest their souls," said top AQAP member Khaled Batarfi.
The group had met and appointed its former military chief Qassim al-Raymi as his replacement, he said. The group orchestrated a number of spectacular attacks inside Yemen in recent years, targeting government ministries, military camps and soldiers, in which hundreds of people were killed.

Al-Qaeda did not specify how or when Wuhayshi was killed. Some residents of the southeastern Yemeni city of Mukalla reported a suspected drone strike on Friday.

But eyewitnesses said that last Tuesday, townspeople were gathering on the city's seaside corniche after evening prayers when an explosion killed three men, spreading their limbs across a street as panicked residents fled.

In an unusual move, Al-Qaeda gunmen cordoned off the area and gathered the bodies, residents said, leading them to believe a militant leader was among the dead.

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