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Yemeni Officials Say US Intensifying Drone Strikes on Al-Qaida

Yemeni authorities say apparent U.S. drone strikes on al-Qaida's branch in Yemen have intensified, with confirmation of a fourth deadly missile attack on the group in the past week.

Authorities said the latest strike happened late Saturday, when an unmanned aircraft killed three suspected al-Qaida members riding a vehicle in the central province of Bayda. Officials said one of the dead was a senior al-Qaida operative, Saleh Mohammed al-Ameri.

In the earlier drone strikes, two al-Qaida insurgents were killed in the eastern province of Hadramawt on Friday, while at least six others were killed in separate missile attacks on December 24.

U.S.-backed Yemeni government forces have been fighting al-Qaida militants in the country for years. Authorities have reported dozens of apparent U.S. drone strikes in 2012, but the staging of four such attacks in one week is unusual.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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