Yemeni tribal leaders say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed seven alleged al-Qaida operatives in the central Marib province.

They said Thursday's strike hit a house believed to have been used by the militants. The U.S. is believed to have carried out at least five drone strikes in Yemen since the beginning of March.

The tribal leaders spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen affiliate is known, has long been seen as the global network's most dangerous branch.

Yemen was plunged into civil war nearly three years ago. Al-Qaida and an Islamic State affiliate have exploited the chaos to expand their presence.