US drone strike kills three al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen
Three suspected al-Qaeda members were killed in an apparent US drone strike, security officials claimed on Thursday.
A mid-ranking commander was among the militants killed when the US drone missile destroyed a vehicle in the region of Sawmaa in central Baida province, the officials said.
Military operations in nearby Hadramout, Abyan and Lahj forced militants to seek refuge in the area where the drone struck.
On Wednesday, two other suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed which officials claim took place while they were transporting weapons in a vehicle.
The drone strike caused a large explosion in central Marib, a security official and witnesses said, identifying one of the dead militants as local al-Qaeda commander, Abu Yaqin al-Waeli.
Washington is the only government to operate drones over Yemen, but only periodically releases statements on its long-running bombing campaign against the country's powerful al-Qaeda branch.
Marib is largely in the hands of loyalists of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his allies in a Saudi-led coalition.
But militants, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have taken advantage of fighting between Houthi rebels and the government to expand their presence in the province.
Washington considers al-Qaeda's Yemen-based franchise to be its most dangerous and has kept up its drone war throughout the conflict.
Activists have claimed that many civilians have been killed in the drone strikes, while innocent Yemenis with no links to al-Qaeda have died in targeted killings of alleged militants.