US drone strikes have killed eight al-Qaeda militants gathered in a house in southern Yemen, according to tribal sources.

The strikes took place around midnight (10pm Wednesday Irish time) in the town of Jaar, an al-Qaeda stronghold in Abyan province, a source in the town said.

"We heard three explosions rock the town," the source said.

He said that a "US drone" carried out the strikes on a residence where the jihadists had been meeting in the dead of night.

Witnesses said that parts of the two-storey building were completely destroyed. No other houses were said to have been affected.

The raid came after an air strike in eastern Yemen on Sunday killed Fahd al-Quso, an al-Qaeda leader wanted in connection with the deadly bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

US media reported on Tuesday that Quso's killing came after information provided by a man who had infiltrated the militant group and was ordered by al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen to blow up a US-bound airliner.

US officials leaked out details of the extraordinary intelligence coup two days after the White House announced a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, had been successfully thwarted.