The strike takes place in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan
Analyst: Abyan "was the backbone of the militant group"
The area is now controlled by the Yemeni government
Four suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in Saturday night when a U.S. drone struck their vehicle in southern Yemen, four Yemeni Defense Ministry officials said.
Residents in Abyan province described a powerful explosion.
The latest strike comes amid Yemen’s campaign to uproot al Qaeda and its offshoot Ansar al Sharia from the country. Officials hailed the strike, calling it a success in the efforts to wipe out al Qaeda.
The province’s Mahfad district has been one of the most targeted districts in Abyan by U.S. drones over the past two years.
“The militants have been tremendously weakened over the last year,” said AbdulSalam Mohammed, president of the Sanaa-based Abaad Strategic Center. “Abyan was the backbone of the militant group, while today it is under the control of the Yemeni government.”
Last year, the government intensified its offensive against al Qaeda after political turmoil in 2010 saw al Qaeda militants takeover the majority of Abyan province. Upon coming to office in 2012, President Abdurabu Hadi vowed to fight al Qaeda until its members are killed or surrender to the government.