Tribal sources told Al Jazeera that the attack took place in Wadi Abida in al-Shabwan.

The area has witnessed over the past four months several US drone attacks against suspected al-Qaeda fugitives.

Local sources said the missile attack also killed the al-Qaeda offshoot member, Mohammed bin Jamil, whom al-Shabwani had reportedly gone to meet.

Pipeline attacked

Members of Jaber al-Shabwani tribe responded to his killing by attacking the pipeline that carries oil from Maarib to Ras Isa, a terminal on the Red Sea coast.

Shipping companies said the attack would not disrupt oil exports from Ras Isa, which refines roughly 30,000 barrels per day.

Tribesmen also tried to occupy the presidential palace in Maarib, but they were repulsed by Yemeni soldiers and army tanks. Local government offices have been shut down throughout the province.

Yemen's supreme security committee issued a statement apologising for the botched raid.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, said he would form a panel to investigate the incident in Maarib.