Sanaa: At least four members of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda offshoot were killed when a US drone bombed their vehicle in the central province of Marib Wednesday evening, a security official said.

“The unmanned US drone fired missiles at a travelling vehicle carrying suspected Al Qaeda members in the Wadi Abida district, in Yemen’s central Marib province, killing about four men onboard,” Xinhua quoted a security official as saying on condition of anonymity.

Tribal sources said that the drone strike targeted a small pick-up truck belonging to a mid-level commander of the Al Qaeda group, reportedly named as Jafar al-Shabwani, killing him along with three of his companions.

Dozens of Al Qaeda members have been killed in such airstrikes since Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in Feb 2012. Before that a year-long unrest weakened the control of the central government and allowed militants to take over swaths of territory in the south.

The Yemeni government, backed by US support, managed to recapture several of those southern cities in May 2012.

Critics of the US government said that the drone strikes often violate international law and cause heavy civilian casualties.

In Dec 2013, a US drone strike mistakenly hit a wedding party in Yemen’s southeastern province of al-Bayda, killing up to 11 Yemeni civilians and wounding 21 others.

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