The attack on Yemen that killed two al-Qaeda leaders was carried out by a US military drone that was targetting the radical US-born Muslim preacher
Anwar al-Awlaki, the New York Times reported late Friday.
The Times, quoting unnamed US officials, said the attack on Thursday was part of a continuing Pentagon programme to hunt down members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, DPA reported.
The attack, which occurred in al-Awlaki's south-eastern home province of Shabwa, killed two men identified as brothers Musaed and Abdullah Mubarak, a source in Yemen told the German Press Agency dpa, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The brothers had been regarded as dangerous and had been involved in many acts of terrorism, according to the Yemeni Defence Ministry.
Al-Awlaki was apparently not killed, the Times reported. It was the first drone missile attack on Yemen since 2002.
Al-Awlaki, whose killing has been approved by the US government even though he is an American citizen, is suspected to have played a role in the failed attempt to bomb an airliner over Detroit in December 2009 and to the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas in November 2009 that left dozens dead.
Al-Awlaki sermons - such as one in 2010 that called on Muslims to kill US citizens because they are the "devil's party" - have a wide following on the internet.
Yemeni prosecutors have charged al-Awlaki with inciting the killing of foreigners, and was at one point being tried in absentia.
On Wednesday, al-Qaeda gunmen blew up a military vehicle in the southern province of Abyan, killing four soldiers and three civilians and wounding nine others in a crowded market place.
The US has regarded Yemen as an important partner in the war on terror, with President Ali Abdullah Saleh an important part of the efforts. But weeks of protests for reform across the country and demands that the strongman Saleh step down have stirred questions about the alliance.