ADEN, Yemen, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- At least three suspected al-Qaida militants were killed when U.S. pilotless aircraft launched missile strikes in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Sunday, a security official told Xinhua.
The Yemeni security source said that the U.S. drone fired two missiles and targeted a vehicle carrying suspected al-Qaida militants in the tribal mountainous village of Marakishah, where scores of terrorists are hiding.
He said that about three wanted al-Qaida elements were killed in the American airstrike that left their vehicle completely destroyed at the scene.
Other local sources said that two other hideouts of the al-Qaida group in the area were bombed in an earlier attack that took place at about 2 p.m. local time (0900 GMT).
The airstrikes struck the al-Qaida militants who were holding a meeting in one of the targeted hideouts, but no details were available about casualties, according to the local sources.
In recent days, hundreds of elite counter-terrorism forces trained by the United Arab Emirates were deployed in different areas of Abyan province in an attempt to track fleeing al-Qaida operatives and storm their hideouts.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in Shabwa and Abyan provinces.
Yemen's government, allied with a Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for years been battling Shiite Houthi rebels for control of the impoverished country.
UN statistics showed that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict, most of them civilians, since the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in 2015.
The impoverished Arab country is also suffering the world's largest cholera outbreak, where about 5,000 cases are reported every day.