A suspected U.S. drone strike killed four members of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, including a local commander, two unidentified officials in Yemen said Saturday. A vehicle traveling east of the capital Sanaa was reportedly hit by the drone.
Officials told Reuters the attack was carried out in Marib province, which is controlled by forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, late Friday. Abu Khaled al-Sanaani, the local commander of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was among the four dead, officials said.
The latest attack was the second drone strike in two days to target a local commander of the militant group, which is regarded by U.S. officials as one of the most dangerous branches of al Qaeda.
On Thursday, a drone strike on a vehicle in al-Bayda province in central Yemen killed a senior AQAP leader known as Abdallah al-Sanaani. Local officials later said he was a regional commander of the group.
The U.S. has carried out drone strikes to target the Islamist militant group that has been exploiting Yemen’s civil war, which has left at least 10,000 dead since fighting escalated in March 2015. Tensions in the region have displaced some 3 million people.
The conflict in Yemen began in September 2014 when Houthi rebels captured Sanaa.
The U.S. has targeted AQAP many times in recent years, and in 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric, who had reportedly become an al Qaeda leader in Yemen, was killed in an airstrike.