SANAA/ADEN, May 28 (Xinhua) -- At least seven members of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch were killed on Monday when a U.S. drone strike bombed their pick-up truck in the southeastern province of Hadramout, a security official told Xinhua.
The U.S. drone fired two missiles on a pick-up truck in Mayfa area west of Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramout, killing a local leader of the al-Qaida terrorist group and six others, the local security official said on condition of anonymity.
The al-Qaida leader was passing through a desert road and heading for a meeting in a compound located in the suburbs of the coastal city Mukalla, the official said.
The al-Qaida leader was on the Yemeni government's most wanted list for involvement in carrying out several attacks against domestic facilities in Hadramout province and other southern provinces, the official said.
Witnesses told Xinhua anonymously that "just a few minutes following a powerful explosion that shook the ground, we rushed immediately to the bombing scene and saw a destroyed vehicle and seven bodies scattered at the place."
Earlier in the day, a U.S. drone strike also killed three al- Qaida militants when it pounded a convoy in the city of Radaa in central Yemen, but two al-Qaida leaders in the car survived, according to a government official.
"Qayid al-Dhahab, his brother Nabil and two of their bodyguards were slightly wounded in the airstrike that targeted their convoy while travelling from the area of Manasih to al-Himmah near the town of Radda in al-Bayda," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Qayid and Nabil command a branch of the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Radda after the Yemeni intelligence services last February killed their brother Sheikh Tariq al-Dhahab, who was the chief of the al-Qaida group there.
Al-Bayda province, some 170 km southeast of the capital Sanaa, has witnessed in the past months a remarkable progress by the Yemeni government against the militants of the AQAP, known locally as Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of the Islamic Law).
Hundreds of militants from the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch are attempting to expand their foothold and take control over the county's southern regions where the central authority has almost no presence.
The United States has strongly supported Yemen in the fight against al-Qaida with drone attacks, killing a number of senior al- Qaida members.