Two suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in a drone strike while traveling on a motorbike in southern Yemen late on Saturday, residents said. The men died on the outskirts of al-Wadei town in Abyan province, said residents who identified one of them as a local leader for the militant group called Ibrahim al-Adani. There was no immediate statement from the militants or from U.S. forces who have repeatedly launched drone and air strikes on Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The group has taken advantage of a more than two-year-old civil war between the Iran-aligned Houthi group and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government to strengthen its position in the impoverished country.
U.S. officials say they are trying to wear down the group’s ability to coordinate attacks abroad. Another suspected U.S. drone strike killed two men believed to be al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen late on Friday, residents and local sources said. In June, a drone strike killed two suspected al Qaeda militants traveling in a vehicle in al-Naqba area of Shabwa province. AQAP operates in several provinces in south and eastern Yemen, including in Abyan, Shabwa and al-Bayda.