ADEN, Yemen, June 16 (Xinhua) -- About three militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch were killed after an unmanned U.S. plane fired a missile at a running vehicle in the southeastern province of Shabwa on Friday, a military official told Xinhua.
"The airstrike took place in Niqabah area of Shabwa province and one vehicle carrying al-Qaida members was completely destroyed," the local military official said on condition of anonymity.
The military source said that the strike was launched on specific intelligence inputs provided by the Yemeni anti-terror unit and resulted in killing three terrorists.
He added that among those killed was the brother of Saad Bin Atef, the leader of al-Qaida terrorist group in Shabwa province.
The mountainous areas in Shabwa and Abyan provinces have been the scene of U.S. drone attacks and clashes between Yemeni security forces and militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch since the emergence of the group in the country eight years ago.
The militant group has yet to make comments about the latest U.S. airstrikes that targeted its fighters in Shabwa province.
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), known locally as "Ansar al-Sharia" and emerged in January 2009, has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and governmental institutions.
The AQAP and the IS-linked militants took advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in southern Yemen.
Security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when war broke out between the Shiite Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.