'US drone strike' kills al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen

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At least three suspected al-Qaeda militants have been killed by a US drone strike in Yemen's south-western al-Bayda province, say local officials.

The men were reportedly hit as they travelled in a car in el-Manaseh village on the outskirts of Radda.

Yemeni officials said one of those killed was a senior al-Qaeda operative, Saleh Mohammed al-Ameri.

The US does not usually confirm drone attacks, but this would be the fourth suspected strike in Yemen in a week.

On Friday, two suspected militants were killed in eastern Hadramout province, while at least five were killed by two strikes on 24 December.

A local tribesman said the car hit by the attack late on Saturday had been "completely obliterated" and the bodies left charred.

"Their bodies were not recognizable, but the government says they're from al-Qaeda," he told Reuters.

State news agency Sana said the men killed had been "elements of al-Qaeda".

Al-Qaeda militants have taken advantage of the upheaval and breakdown of central government in Yemen over the past year to gain ground again.

The country is now considered to be the stronghold of al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula (AQAP), which the US views as the most active and deadly wing of the terror network.

The US military has been backing the Yemeni government in its efforts to to oust the militants.

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