U.S. drone strike in Yemen kills two senior al Qaeda members: officials

SANAA (Reuters) - Two senior members of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch were killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike in the central province of Bayda, local officials told Reuters on Thursday.

The strike, which took place in al-Ridaa district, was the third in central Yemen in a week. Previous strikes targeted regional commanders in Bayda and nearby Maarib province.

The United States acknowledges using drones to combat the Islamist militant group in Yemen, regarded as one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous branches, but does not comment publicly on attacks.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has exploited Yemen’s civil war to carve out a foothold in the impoverished country. Several leaders of the group have been killed by drone strikes in recent years.

Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Katie Paul; Editing by Dominic Evans