ADEN, Yemen, April 21 (Xinhua) -- At least four al-Qaida militants were killed in an overnight U.S. drone strike in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, a Yemeni military source said Monday.
The U.S. unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a small pick- up truck travelling in a desert road in the Usylan region in Shabwa province late Sunday night, killing all four people on board, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Among the dead were two leading members of the Yemen-based al- Qaida branch on the Yemeni government's most wanted list for involvement in several terrorist attacks against domestic facilities, the source said.
"We have unconfirmed reports that Ibrahim al-Asiri, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's master bomb maker, may have been killed in the night drone strike in Shabwa," a local intelligence official told Xinhua, also on condition of anonymity.
Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is a wanted Saudi militant accused of making the bombs used in a string of high-profile attacks by al- Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) since mid-2009.
Some local residents near the scene reported a "huge explosion" and sighting of "a number of burned bodies" lying next to a damaged car.
"A military helicopter gunship with counter-terrorism troops landed on Shabwa road just few minutes after the bombing, and two of the burned bodies were taken," one of the residents said, requesting anonymity.
A government official in Shabwa confirmed to Xinhua that the Yemeni air force, backed by special operations commandos, did carried out nightly missions in the province, but denied reports that U.S. personnel were involved in handling the bodies.
The al-Qaida group has not yet commented on the latest drone raid.
On Sunday, multiple U. S. drone strikes against a training camp of al-Qaida militants in neighboring province of Abyan in southern Yemen have left up to 30 dead and many more wounded, according to Yemeni officials.
The AQAP, which emerged in January 2009, is considered the most serious strategic threat to the Yemeni government and neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.