US drone strike kills five suspected al-Qaeda fighters

Missiles hit a car reportedly carrying five AQAP fighters and weapons to Marib province, local media reports say.

Map of Marib in Yemen

A US drone strike has killed five suspected members of al-Qaeda in central Yemen, according to local news media and a government security official.

Yemen Ajel, a local news website, reported that the drone fired three consecutive missiles at 12:30am local time on Sunday, or 22:30 GMT on Saturday, at a car reportedly transporting weapons to Marib province.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a military official told AFP news agency that the car belonged to a local leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

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The strike comes 24 hours after a similar raid killed three suspected AQAP operatives in the southern Shabwa province, which has been a central target of the US military.

The US has stepped up its use of drone strikes under President Donald Trump, with the Pentagon confirming more than 70 strikes since February 28.

The increased bombing comes after a botched American raid against AQAP killed a number of civilians on January 29.

The raid on Yakla, an impoverished and desolate town, resulted in the deaths of at least 16 civilians, including women and children.

The January raid attracted widespread media attention because one Navy SEAL was also killed in what marked the first operation of its kind authorised by Trump.

However, local sources told Al Jazeera that the tribal leader, who was the target of the raid, had repeatedly denied being a member of AQAP.

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Yemen has been torn apart by conflict since 2014, when Houthi fighters allied with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh captured large expanses of the Arabian Peninsula country, including the capital Sanaa.

AQAP and a local affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group have exploited Yemen’s war to carry out assassinations and bombings, mostly in lawless areas in the south.

According to the UN, more than 10,000 people have died – nearly half of them civilians – since an Arab coalition began a campaign of air strikes in March 2015 to drive out the Houthis and their allies.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies