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ADEN (Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone strike killed two men believed to be al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen late on Friday, residents and local sources said.

The strike took place in the al Naqba area of Shabwa province where residents heard a loud explosion that they say completely destroyed a vehicle carrying armed people.

Shabwa is one of several provinces in Yemen where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is active.

Yemen-based AQAP has exploited a more than two-year-old civil war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi's Saudi-backed government to enhance its influence in the impoverished country.

The United States has repeatedly attacked AQAP with aircraft and unmanned drones in what U.S. officials say is a campaign to wear down the group's ability to coordinate attacks abroad.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhasaf; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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