ADEN: A drone strike near the southern Yemeni city of Jaar killed at least seven al Qaeda suspects at dawn on Thursday, an official in the restive region told AFP.
“A drone, likely American, fired several rockets at a group of al Qaeda members northwest of Jaar killing all of them,” said the official, adding seven bodies had so far been recovered.
The United States is the only country that operates drones in the region.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said al Qaeda militants have been trying to position themselves near Yemen's main southern cities to carry out operations against the army and the Popular Resistance Committees, the local militias that fight alongside it.
In May, the army launched an all out offensive against al Qaeda in the southern of province Abyan, forcing them to retreat from major strongholds including Jaar and Abyan's capital Zinjibar.
The campaign was backed by US drones which in recent months have been deployed in strikes against al Qaeda targets in the south and east of the country.
Thursday's strike was the second such drone attack this month.
On October 4, a drone blasted two cars carrying suspected al Qaeda gunmen in the southern province of Shabwa, killing five of them.
Al Qaeda took advantage of the weakness of Yemen's central government in an uprising last year against now ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, seizing large swathes of territory across the south.
But after the month-long summer offensive, most militants have fled to the more lawless desert regions of the east.
Though weakened, the militants still launch hit-and-run attacks on government and civilian targets throughout the country.