A US drone strike has hit suspected militants travelling in a vehicle in Yemen. Civilians in a nearby car were also reported killed.
Military officials in Yemen reported anAmerican drone strike
in the al-Bayda province of central Yemen early on Saturday.
Witnesses said the suspected militants were in a vehicle travelling south and a car carrying civilians was passing in the opposite direction as the drone strike hit.
At least nine suspected al-Qaeda militants and three civilians are reported to have been killed in the strike. Yemen's Defense Ministry website quoted a security source as saying a number of "terrorists" had been killed.
The drone strike comes just days after the deputy governor of al-Bayda was assassinated by suspected al-Qaeda militants as he was leaving his home.
Yemen is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice (the photo above shows a US MQ-9 Reaper). The drone program has been criticized by human rights groups concerned about the risk of
Last month, Yemen's president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, defended the use of drones, telling the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily that they "have greatly helped in limiting al-Qaeda activities, despite some mistakes which we are sorry about."
Yemen was the ancestral home of the late leading al-Qaeda figure Osama bin Laden and the home base of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been linked to a number of planned attacks in the US.
jm/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)