ADEN, Yemen, June 25 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. drone strike killed three suspected al-Qaida militants on Monday in Yemen's southern port city of Aden while they were travelling on a desert road, a security official told Xinhua.
The air bombing occurred near the desert area of Beer Hameed on the outskirts of Aden, and killed three suspected al-Qaida militants, including a senior commander of the terrorist group, the local security official said on condition of anonymity.
"Two missiles bombed an al-Qaida convoy, destroying a small pick-up truck and killing all passengers inside," the security official said, adding that "They were coming from neighboring Abyan province, where army troops seized control of the al-Qaida bastions."
It is the first drone strike in Aden's suburbs, according to the official.
"The identity and nationality of the slain commander of the al- Qaida group is not immediately known," a senior military intelligence officer told Xinhua anonymously.
Meanwhile, the country's Defense Ministry said in a brief text message obtained by Xinhua that about 73 people were killed in the southern Abyan province over the past few days in explosions from land mines planted by al-Qaida militants before they fled the province.
The U.S.-backed army offensive forced al-Qaida militants to flee several bastions in the country's restive southern and eastern provinces which they captured during last year's political turmoil.
The al-Qaida militants remain in control of the smaller town of Mahfad in Abyan and some small cities in neighboring Shabwa province.
Combating al-Qaida militants in the restive south is one of the challenges confronting current Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has promised to launch a national dialogue to settle disputes among all political factions and uproot the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida.