US drone strikes hit al Qaeda militants in Yemen

Nine suspected members of al Qaeda were killed by US drone strikes in the Yemen province of Marib, a tribal chief and witnesses said on Sunday.

AFP reports that a raid late Saturday struck a vehicle carrying four suspected members of the jihadist network in Wadi Abida.

"The bodies of the four dead were charred," a tribal leader told AFP, requesting anonymity. He added that only the body of Ismail bin Jamil, a local Al-Qaeda chief, was identified.

Local residents told AP that three of the bodies were charred beyond recognition. They told AP that that at least two of the people killed in Saturday's strikes were known al-Qaida militants of Saudi nationality.

A separate raid killed five people including Hamad Hassan Ghreib, a member of al Qaeda, who were traveling in a vehicle in the same area, the tribal source told AFP. All five belonged to the terrorist group, the source added. 

According to Reuters, another ten suspected al Qaeda operatives were killed by a drone strike on Saturday at a home in south Yemen where they were making bombs. 

The US government does not comment on drone strikes carried out by the military, reports AP, but is increasing its support for Yemen's fight against militants linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). 

According to the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation, drone strikes in Yemen nearly tripled in 2012 from a year earlier, with 53 recorded strikes.