By Carlo Muñoz - 12/10/13 11:06 AM EST
Three suspected members of al Qaeda's Yemeni cell were killed in an American drone strike in the country on Tuesday.
U.S. drones hit a vehicle traveling in the volatile Hadramaut province in southern Yemen, a known stronghold for the al Qaeda cell, dubbed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
American military and intelligence officials have dubbed the AQAP one of the most active and dangerous al Qaeda cells operating in the world.
Yemeni security officials verified the attack and the three casualties to The Associated Press.
The attack was the first American drone strike against members of the Yemeni faction since a deadly suicide bombing in the country's capitol of Sanaa last Thursday.
AQAP leaders claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted Yemen's Defense Ministry.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens more injured during the attack, while a dozen gunmen were also killed in a subsequent firefight between Yemeni troops and militants who arrived minutes after the suicide bomber exploded his vehicle, the AP reported at the time.
The gunmen, who were wearing Yemeni army uniforms, were armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades, Yemeni military officials said last week.