Drone kills four suspected militants in Yemen: residents

ADEN/SANAA (Reuters) - An attack by an unmanned aircraft on a car in southern Yemen overnight killed four suspected al Qaeda militants, residents and local officials said on Thursday. Those killed in the strike by a suspected U.S. drone in al-Mahfad in Abyan province included a man described by the residents as a mid-ranking local leader, Ahmed al-Kazimi. The occupants of the vehicle were suspected members of Ansar al-Sharia, a part of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the al Qaeda network. The United States, which fears turmoil in Yemen will strengthen AQAP, acknowledges using drones in Yemen but does not comment publicly on the practice. The group's new leader Qassim al-Raymi, appointed after his predecessor was killed in a U.S. drone strike in June, called for attacks on the United States in a taped speech released on July 9. (Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashef and Mohammed Ghobari, Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky and William Maclean, Editing by Dominic Evans)