SANAA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. drone strike killed at least three suspected al-Qaida operatives in Yemen's central province of al-Bayda Thursday, local officials said.
"Local al-Qaida leader Mukbil Obad and two of his bodyguards were killed in the air raid in a mountainous area of Radda city," a provincial security official told Xinhua by phone.
The three men were on a car on Tha'alib Mountain in Kaifah area of Radda city when they were hit by a pilotless aircraft's missile.
Obad is a brother-in-law of Qayid al-Dhahab, chief of the provincial branch of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in al-Bayda.
It is the fifth such attack in a week against al-Qaida targets in Yemeni southern regions.
Al-Bayda province, about 267 km southeast of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, was the scene of deadly battles between the army and al- Qaida militants earlier last year.
On Saturday, a U.S. drone strike targeted a group of al-Qaida militants onboard a car on a remote road between the villages of Khabra and Manasih on the outskirts of Radda city, killing three militants, according to official news agency Saba.
Earlier this week, a U.S. unmanned aircraft killed at least seven al-Qaida suspects in three separate strikes in Shaher town of the southeastern province of Hadramout.
The escalation of airstrikes came as al-Qaida militants in Yemen offered in a video tape released earlier this week a bounty of 3,000 grams of gold to whoever beheads the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa.