A drone strike has killed an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, a local official and tribal sources said, the latest in a string of such attacks.
The strike hit a vehicle travelling in Manasseh village in the southern province of Bayda early on Friday.
Qaeed al-Dhahab, the local commander of al-Qaeda in Radaa district was killed along with at least two other men, the sources said.
Some local sources put the death toll at five.
“The drone targeted a place where they were meeting,” a local source said.
Dhahab had previously fought with al-Qaeda in Iraq. He was the brother of Tarek al-Dhahab, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who in January 2012 with other fighters briefly overran the town of Radaa before being killed.
Yemen is the main stronghold of AQAP, one of al-Qaeda’s most aggressive wings.
It is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment publicly on the practice. It is the only country deploying drones in the region.
About 10 drone strikes since July 28 in eastern, southern and southeastern Yemen have killed more than 40 people.
Earlier this month, Yemen said it had foiled an AQAP plot to storm a Canadian-run oil facility at Mina al-Dhaba on the Arabian Sea coast.
The US had closed about two dozen embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa since August 4 after reported intelligence intercepts from al-Qaeda suggested an attack was imminent.
Other foreign missions in Sanaa were also closed briefly over the alleged plot, which AQAP has denied as “nonsense and propaganda”.
The al-Qaeda fighters took advantage of a decline in central government control during a 2011 uprising that forced veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of territory across the south, including most of Abyan province, which they controlled for a year.
They were driven out of these areas in June last year and have been increasingly weakened mainly due to US drone attacks.
They still carry out hit-and-run attacks against security forces.