Sana’a: A suspected US drone strike late on Saturday killed five Al Qaida militants, a local official said.

The suspected US drone strike came near the village of Al Qotn in Hadramawt province in the east of Yemen, another region where Al Qaida has been active.

“A drone fired two missiles at an all-terrain vehicle... killing its five occupants, all members of Al Qaida,” a local official said, requesting anonymity. Security forces sealed off the scene of the strike, witnesses said. The United States is the only country that has drones in the region and in recent months has stepped up its strikes on Al Qaida targets in the south and east of Yemen. Washington regards the Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as the most effective branch of the global jihadist network.

Al Qaida loyalists have carried out a spate of deadly attacks against Yemeni security forces and their militia allies since President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi came to power earlier this year pledging to crush the militants.

Al Qaida had taken advantage of a nearly year-long uprising against Hadi’s predecessor, veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, to seize large swathes of the south and east.

In July, Yemen announced it had placed its security services on high alert to prevent “terrorist” attacks after it uncovered a plot to launch assaults against security and military checkpoints.