Source: XINHUA | 2012-4-8 | ONLINE EDITION
ADEN, Yemen, April 8 (Xinhua) -- A total of eight al-Qaida militants, including three foreigners, were killed in an overnight airstrike in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, a government official told Xinhua Sunday.
U.S. drones bombed on Saturday night a convoy of the al-Qaida militants while they were travelling in a desert road between Maarib and Shabwa provinces, killing a total of eight militants, including three foreigners, the local government official said on condition of anonymity.
The al-Qaida militants were heading from Shabwa toward their strongholds in neighboring Maarib province, the official said.
Just after midnight Saturday, aircrafts could be heard soaring through the sky and smoke was seen rising in the pounded area, local residents told Xinhua anonymously.
A tribal leader said that the U.S. missile attack were aiming to target senior leaders of the al-Qaida group inside the convoy, but they survived without hurts.
On Saturday night, a security official said anonymously that Yemeni air forces carried out two airstrikes against al-Qaida sites in the Asaed district, 40 km southwest of Ataq, the provincial capital of Shabwa, causing no casualties.
A sources close to the al-Qaida wing told Xinhua anonymously that "unmanned U.S. drones struck some of our sites in Shabwa, but nobody was killed in the air bombing."
Yemen has experienced a surge of violence in southern and eastern provinces, where the resurgent al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been intensifying armed attacks on the government institutions and the army troops, exploiting security vacuum resulted from the army splits due to prolonged protest.
Local observers fear that security situation in southern and eastern provinces, home to the country's oil and gas stockpiles, may worsen as the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch expands its control over the chaos-ridden areas, despite the government' efforts to reunite the army to intensify battles against the AQAP.