A drone air strike blasted two cars carrying suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa on Thursday, killing five of them, a tribal chief and witnesses said.

"Five militants belonging to Ansar Al-Sharia were killed in a drone strike" in Shabwa, said Abdulmajid al-Awlaqi, a local tribal chief.

Awlaqi said "among those killed were two from our tribe," identifying them as Saad bin Ateq -- emir of the southern town of Azzan which was an Al-Qaeda stronghold until the army recaptured it in June, and Musaed al-Hadathi.

An Egyptian was also among those killed.

A medical source told AFP that two wounded people were brought to the hospital, "one of them Yemeni and the second Egyptian" without giving further details.

Witnesses said the drone fired four missiles at the two cars as they travelled through the town of Saeed in Shabwa, the ancestral homeland of Anwar al-Awlaqi, the US-born Islamic cleric and Al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a suspected US drone strike in September last year.

"The two cars are still burning and we couldn't get close to them because the drones are still hovering in the area," said a local resident.

Awlaqi said gunmen suspected to have links with Al-Qaeda had earlier arrived in four vehicles and "set up a checkpoint on the road linking Saeed and Ataq," Shabwa's provincial capital.

He warned that "these raids only widen the gap between the people and the government and only have negative effects."