The US military is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen, a country ravaged by war since 2014.

A soldier (R) stands guard while Yemenis gather during a protest, to denounce American drone attacks in Yemen, in front of the parliament building in Sanaa, Yemen. April 24, 2014.
A soldier (R) stands guard while Yemenis gather during a protest, to denounce American drone attacks in Yemen, in front of the parliament building in Sanaa, Yemen. April 24, 2014. (AP Archive)

At least seven people were killed on Saturday in a drone airstrike in southeastern Yemen, health officials said.

A drone, which is thought to belong to the US, targeted a vehicle carrying seven civilians in Said district of southeastern Shabwah province.

At least six people were members of the same family, Anadolu Agency quoted local sources as saying. 

They were targeted when they were on their way back after recovering a 14-year-old boy from the captivity of Al Qaeda, the sources, who requested anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said. 

However, according to security sources who spoke to AFP, all seven passengers were Al Qaeda members. The US considers the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to be the radical group's most dangerous branch.

Separately, the Yemen army brought down a drone controlled by Houthis in southwestern Taiz province.

Troops downed a reconnaissance drone over Jarrah Mountain in northern Taiz which was reportedly on a mission to locate Yemeni army positions, according to military sources cited by the army's website 26sepnews.net.

Yemen has remained locked in a civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi militia overran much of the country including the capital Sanaa. This prompted Yemen’s Saudi-backed government to set up an interim capital in the coastal city of Aden.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen.

According to UN figures, more than 10,000 people, including numerous civilians, have been killed as a direct result of the conflict. Thousands more, including children, are grappling with malnutrition, cholera and now diphtheria. 

Source: AA