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By Alex Johnson, Courtney Kube and Ken Dilanian

U.S. forces killed seven al Qaeda-affiliated fighters during a counterterrorism raid in Yemen, U.S. Central Command said Monday.

The raid, in Marib about 100 miles northeast of Sanaa, the capital, wasn't a mission to take out "high value" targets associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a U.S. defense official told NBC News.

Instead, the official said, U.S. forces were seeking "laptops, cellphones" and similar materials that could help the United States learn more about the terrorist group.

The AQAP fighters were killed by small arms fire and airstrikes, Central Command said. It said the mission was approved by the Yemeni government.

The United States deployed a massive volley of more than 30 airstrikes in less than 48 hours in Yemen beginning March 3. Central Command said at the time that Mossad al-Adani, described as al Qaeda's "emir" of the governorate of Abyan, was killed.

U.S. Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens was killed in an earlier raid in late Janauary that involved the rare use of U.S. ground troops in Yemen. Top U.S. officials disagreed at the time about whether that raid yielded any significant intelligence.