Top Al-Qaeda leader targeted in Yemen: Report

WASHINGTON - The leader of Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen was targeted in a CIA drone strike last week, though US officials would not immediately confirm he had been killed, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Nasir al-Wuhayshi's group, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is behind several plots against the United States, including an attempt to blow up a US commercial airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

US officials told the Post they were reviewing intelligence linked to a June 9 drone strike that targeted Wuhayshi and other AQAP operatives.

"We are looking to confirm his death," a US intelligence official told the newspaper.

CNN, meanwhile, cited two Yemeni national security officials as saying Wuhayshi had been killed on Friday.

A Yemeni official last week told AFP that a drone had fired four missiles on June 9 at three Al-Qaeda militants, including an unnamed "leading figure," near Mukalla port, killing them on the spot.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has exploited months of fighting in Yemen between Iran-backed rebels and their Saudi-backed rivals to consolidate its grip on Hadramawt's provincial capital Mukalla - a city of more than 200,000.

The United States considers AQAP the extremist group's deadliest global franchise and regularly targets its militants with armed drone strikes on Yemeni territory.

It is the only government that operates the unmanned aircraft over the impoverished country.