Third deadly drone strike in a week hits Yemen Qaeda

Aden (AFP) - An apparent US drone strike has killed five suspected Al-Qaeda members in Yemen in the third such attack this week, a security official said on Saturday.

Washington is the only government to operate drones over Yemen but only sporadically releases statements on its long-running bombing campaign against the country's powerful Al-Qaeda branch.

The Friday evening strike in Marib province, east of the capital, killed local commander Abu Khaled al-Sanaani and four guards, the official said.

On Thursday, a drone strike in neighbouring Al-Bayda province killed three suspected Al-Qaeda members, one of them a commander.

A Tuesday strike in Marib province, killed two suspected Al-Qaeda members and caused a large explosion when munitions they were transporting blew up.

Marib is largely in the hands of loyalists of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and his allies in a Saudi-led coalition.

But Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of fighting with the Shiite rebels who control the capital to consolidate its longstanding presence in the province.

Washington considers Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based franchise to be its most dangerous and has kept up its drone war throughout the conflict.