At least four al-Qaida militants were killed Saturday in armed clashes with units of the Yemeni armed forces in the turbulent southern province of Abyan, a military official told Xinhua.
Up to 10 al-Qaida militants armed with automatic rifles attacked an army patrol in the coastal town of Shakra in Abyan province, sparking a short gun battle that left at least four insurgents killed, the local military official said on condition of anonymity.
The army troops supported by pro-government tribal fighters chased the al-Qaida attackers, and shelled their position with mortars and heavy-machine guns, the official said.
An army soldier who was involved in the clashes told Xinhua anonymously that "three army members were injured and a military's vehicle was set ablaze in the armed confrontation with al-Qaida militants."
A local resident said that heavy machine-gun fire and explosions are still ranging out across several neighborhoods in Shakra.
On Friday, a prominent commander of a tribal militia fighting al-Qaida militants in Abyan survived an assassination attempt safely and unharmed, but two of his bodyguards were killed.
Gunmen of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot were likely behind the botched assassination bid, according to a Yemeni security official.
Attacks and raids have continued since the country's political turmoil last year, when scores of al-Qaida militants took control of certain areas in the restive south but were later pushed out by a U.S.-backed intervention.
The United States has used its drones to support the Yemeni military campaign that aimed to crush al-Qaida operations in the impoverished Arab country.