ADEN, Yemen, July 3 (Xinhua) -- A total of five al-Qaida militants were killed Tuesday evening when a U.S. drone bombed their vehicle in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, a security official told Xinhua.
The U.S. drone pounded an al-Qaida vehicle while it was passing through a desert road in Bayhan district in Shabwa province, killing at least five passengers inside and injuring two others, the local security official said on condition of anonymity.
"The warplane fired about three bombs," the official said, adding "Initial reports indicate that local al-Qaida commanders were amongst the dead terrorists in Tuesday's attack."
Witnesses near the scene told Xinhua anonymously that "several bodies were scattered next to the bombed car. Army soldiers rushed immediately and imposed a cordon around the whole area."
Earlier in the day, the country's defense ministry said that security forces arrested 14 al-Qaida militants, including nine foreigners, while they were planning to carry out terrorist operations across Yemen.
"The captured terrorists included four Egyptians, two Jordanians, a Somali, a Tunisian and a Russian," the ministry said in text message obtained by Xinhua.
Combating al-Qaida militants in restive south is one of the challenges confronting Yemeni President Abdul-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has launched months-long military offensive to uproot the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, which known locally as Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law).
The U.S.-backed offensive managed to expel al-Qaida militants from their major strongholds in the southern province of Abyan, recapturing its capital Zinjibar, towns like Jaar, Shakra and several villages, which they had controlled for nearly one year during the political unrest in Yemen.
The al-Qaida militants still have a strong presence in the Mahfad town and some mountainous areas in Abyan.
The poorest Arab country is in the process of transition following a peaceful transfer of power in November 2011 by long- time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, a move that ended 11-month mass protests against his rule.