ADEN, Yemen, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. drone strikes killed about seven members of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot in the country's southeastern province of Shabwa on Tuesday, a military official told Xinhua.
The military source said on condition of anonymity that three vehicles carrying al-Qaida members were struck by U.S. drone raids while traveling in a mountainous area of Shabwa province.
Initial reports indicated that more than seven al-Qaida members were killed and others left injured, the source said.
Local residents told Xinhua that suspected al-Qaida gunmen launched an armed attack on a military checkpoint in Shabwa hours before the U.S. airstrikes.
At least three army personnel were killed and two others injured as a result of the al-Qaida attack, the residents said.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional al-Qaida insurgencies in the Middle East.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as Ansar al-Sharia, emerged in Jan. 2009. It had claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks on Yemen's army and government institutions.
U.S. drones have been active over Yemeni cities since years ago, launching hundreds of airstrikes that killed scores of al-Qaida leaders and many other extremists.
The Arab country has recently seen a growing number of al-Qaida activities in eastern and southern provinces, due to the prolonged security vacuum resulting from the 19-month civil war between the exiled government and Houthi rebels who seized much of the country's north, including capital Sanaa, since 2014.
The UN figures show that the military conflict has left more than 6,400 dead, displaced thousands, leading to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.