ADEN : 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.