ADEN, Yemen, July 2 (Xinhua) -- A mid-ranking commander of Yemen's al-Qaida branch was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the country's troubled southern province of Abyan, a security official told Xinhua on Sunday.
The unmanned U.S. plane fired a missile at a running vehicle carrying al-Qaida militants in the al-Wadhei area of Abyan province late on Saturday night, the security official said on condition of anonymity.
The source said that Ibrahim Al-Adani, a local mid-ranking al-Qaida commander, was killed along with his two escorts, as the vehicle they were driving was completely destroyed in the raid.
The U.S. often carries out drone attacks against al-Qaida terrorists in the mountainous areas in Shabwa and Abyan provinces, where Yemeni security forces have been fighting militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch since its emergence eight years ago.
The militant group has yet to make comments on the latest U.S. airstrike.
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 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 take advantage of the security vacuum and the 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 in support of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.