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Drone strike kills three Qaeda suspects in Yemen: army

Yemeni soldiers inspect cars as they man a checkpoint in the capital Sanaa before the final closing session of the National Dialogue Conference on January 24, 2014
Yemeni soldiers inspect cars as they man a checkpoint in the capital Sanaa before the final closing session of the National Dialogue Conference on January 24, 2014

A US drone struck a vehicle in Yemen's eastern province of Marib overnight killing three Al-Qaeda suspects, a military source said on Friday.

"A vehicle was hit by a missile fired from an American drone. It was totally destroyed and the three people inside, Al-Qaeda militants, were killed," the source told AFP.

The attack took place near a military position in the Obeida valley, east of the city of Marib and away from residential areas, the source said.

The US military operates all unmanned aircraft flying over Yemen in support of Sanaa's campaign against Al-Qaeda and has killed dozens of militants in a sharply intensified campaign over the past year.

The attacks have triggered criticism from human rights activists who say they have claimed the lives of many innocent civilians.

The United Nations said that 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 injured when two separate wedding processions were targeted by drones in early December.

The victims had been mistakenly identified as members of Al-Qaeda, the UN quoted local security officials as saying at the time.

Following the deaths, Yemen's parliament voted for a ban on drone strikes, but analysts say lawmakers have limited powers and are unlikely to impact Washington's campaign.

The United States says the drone attacks are an essential part of its "war on terror".

Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and the home base of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which the United States views as the global jihadist network's most dangerous franchise.

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