An air strike has killed at least nine alleged Al-Qaeda fighters in the central Yemeni province of al-Bayda, security officials said.
Tribal sources in the area said a drone had been circling the region for days before the early Saturday strike hit two cars that contained suspected fighters, and added that at least three civilians in a nearby car were also killed, Reuters reported.
Yemen's Defense Ministry website quoted a security source as saying more than nine suspected Al-Qaeda members were killed.
"An air strike targeted cars that suspected Al-Qaeda militants were in and killed 13 of them in the Sawma'a are of al-Bayda," a security source told Reuters.
Yemen is among a handful of countries where the U.S. acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice.
Washington has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen and regarded by the U.S. as one of the most lethal wings of the group.
Earlier this week, suspected Al-Qaeda fighters shot dead the deputy governor of al-Bayda as he was leaving his home, according to a security official.
Al-Bayda has seen serious security incidents in the past. In December, 15 people on their way to a wedding were killed by an air strike after their party was apparently mistaken for an Al-Qaeda convoy, according to security officials.
The Yemeni government said in a statement at the time that senior Al-Qaeda fighters were targeted in the air strike. It did not say who carried out the attack.
Al Jazeera and Reuters