An attack by an unmanned aircraft on a car in southern Yemen overnight killed four suspected al Qaida militants, residents and local officials said on Thursday.
Those killed in the strike by a suspected U.S. drone in al-Mahfad in Abyan province included a man described by the residents as a mid-ranking local leader, Ahmed al-Kazimi.
The occupants of the vehicle were suspected members of Ansar al-Sharia, a part of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the al Qaida network.
The United States, which fears turmoil in Yemen will strengthen AQAP, acknowledges using drones in Yemen but does not comment publicly on the practice.
The group's new leader Qassim al-Raymi, appointed after his predecessor was killed in a U.S. drone strike in June, called for attacks on the United States in a taped speech released on July 9.