Four Al Qaeda men killed in US drone strike

Tribesmen stand on the rubble of a building destroyed by a U.S. drone air strike, that targeted suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan of the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa February 3, 2013. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of slain U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and six al Qaeda militants, were killed in a strike on this building on October 14, 2011, tribal elders said. U.S. drones have launched almost daily raids on suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen over the past two weeks, and air strikes have aggravated discontent among Yemenis, who say the strikes pose a threat to civilians. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was 16 years old and also a U.S. citizen. His father had been killed in a drone two weeks earlier, in September 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY SOCIETY) - RTR3DAZA

Four members of Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, including a local commander, were killed in a suspected US drone strike on a vehicle travelling east of the capital Sanaa, two local officials said on Saturday.

They said the attack in Marib province, controlled by forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, occurred late on Friday. A local commander of the militant Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), known as Abu Khaled al-Sanaani, was killed along with three associates, they said.

It was the second drone strike in two days to target a local commander of the Islamist militant group regarded by US officials as one of the most dangerous branches of Al Qaeda.

A drone strike on a vehicle in al-Bayda province in central Yemen killed a senior AQAP leader known as Abdallah al-Sanaani, identified as a regional commander of the group, on Thursday.

The United States has been using drones to target the Islamist militant group which has exploited Yemen’s civil war to carve out a foothold in the impoverished country. Several leaders of the group have been killed by drone strikes in recent years.

US officials have said AQAP is one of the most potent security threats in the Middle East. The group, whose attacks have mainly targeted the Yemeni government and the Iran-allied Houthi group, claimed resp¬on¬¬sibility for an attack last year on the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Read more: Drone strike kills 7 Qaeda suspects in Yemen: official