American media reports say a US missile attack in Yemen during the week targeted but failed to kill al Qaeda’s regional head.
Anwar al-Awlaki and his organisation al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are seen by some as the most serious threat after the death of Osama bin Laden.
The reports by CBS News and the Wall Street Journal say an attack by a US drone aircraft on a car on Thursday killed two brothers who were suspected midlevel al Qaeda militants. It is thought that although al-Awlaki had been travelling in the vehicle earlier, several attacks missed him.
Yemen is fighting al Qaeda in Shabwa and several other remote mountain provinces in the south.
The group is said to have inspired attacks by Muslims inside the US.
Washington hasn’t commented on the reports that al-Awlaki, who was born in the US, was specifically targeted.
US drone attack 'missed' al Qaeda chief in Yemen