An air strike in central Yemen on Sunday killed 10 suspected Al-Qaeda extremists and three women companions, but a militant leader escaped unharmed, a tribal chief said.
The raid that targeted two vehicles in the Radaa area “killed five of the guards of Abdulraouf al-Dahab and three women,” said the tribal chief, adding that a rocket missed the car of Dahab, who is a local Al-Qaeda leader.
He later said that the toll of dead militants had increased to 10, adding that the vehicle that was hit was a pick-up.
The source said that the plane, which could have been an unmanned drone, fired two rockets. The first missed Dahab’s car but the second hit the vehicle behind it, which transported the guards and women.
The attack took place around 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) on the road between the village of Hama and Dahab’s village of Manasseh, he said.
Other local and security sources confirmed the attack and the toll.
The United States is the only country that has drones in the region and in recent months has been carrying out strikes on Al-Qaeda targets in the south and east of the country and in the Arabian peninsula.
Dahab is the brother of Tarek al-Dahab, who led Al-Qaeda fighters in a January raid in which they overran the town of Radaa, 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of Sanaa.
The militants abandoned the city later the same month, bowing to tribal pressure.
Tarek Dahab was killed in February.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken advantage of the weakness of the central government during a year of protests against ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh to expand their presence in the impoverished country.
Al-Qaeda loyalists have carried out a spate of deadly attacks against Yemeni security forces and their militia allies since Saleh’s successor President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi came to power, pledging to crush the militants.
In an all-out offensive launched in May, the army retook a string of towns in Abyan province in the south.