Aden, Yemen, Jan 5: A senior leader of Al-Qaida Jamal Badawi was killed in an airstrike launched by a US drone in the central province of al-Bayda, Yemen, a security official reported.

"A leading local commander of al-Qaida group named Jamal Badawi was killed on Friday by the U.S. drone strike carried out in al-Bayda Province," the security source said on condition of anonymity.

The airstrike precisely targeted a vehicle carrying Badawi who was travelling alone near al-Qaida-held area in al-Bayda, the source said.

The airstrike came as a result of effective cooperation between the Yemen Intelligence agencies and the anti-terror U.S. officials, the source added.  

Badawi was involved in orchestrating the armed attack on the U.S. destroyer USS Cole in October 2000 while it was being refuelled at Yemen's Aden harbor, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which carries out sporadic attacks against Yemeni soldiers, backed by the United Arab Emirates in different areas of the country's southern regions, revealed no statement to confirm or deny the U.S. airstrike.

The AQAP network, mostly operating in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in Yemen.

The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes against AQAP fighters in different provinces of the war-torn Arab country since U.S President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group.

The expanded operations included intensified overnight airstrikes and ground military raids against the al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous areas of al-Bayda and southeastern province of Shabwa.

The AQAP, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in the southeastern provinces.

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