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US drone strike kills 2 suspected al-Qaida leaders in Yemen: official

SANAA, March 10 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. drone strike killed two suspected al-Qaida local leaders in Yemen's central province of Marib on Monday night, a provincial security official told Xinhua.

"The drone strike this night targeted a car carrying al-Qaida regional leaders Mohammed Jabir al-Shabwani and Abdullah Mubarak bin Hamad in Wadi Abida area of Marib," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The car was also destroyed and burned by the drone's three missiles, he added.

It is the fourth drone strike in a week that targets al-Qaida suspects inside Yemen.

On Wednesday, a U.S. unmanned plane hit a vehicle in the Yemeni northern province of al- Jawf and killed at least two suspected al- Qaida militants. Two days earlier, another drone strike killed a suspected al-Qaida militant in Marib province.

The United States has escalated its drone strikes on suspected al-Qaida targets in Yemen since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February 2012 after a UN-backed deal removed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power.

Earlier this month, the White House pledged to continue to support the counterterrorism efforts of Hadi's government, aiming to uproot al-Qaida group in Yemen.

However, critics said the drone strikes often violate international law and cause heavy civilian casualties. In December 2013, a U.S. drone strike mistakenly hit a wedding party in Yemen' s southeastern province of al-Bayda, killing 11 Yemeni civilians and wounding another 21.

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