ADEN, Yemen, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Suspected al-Qaida militants launched an armed attack on a pro-government military checkpoint in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Sunday, leaving four soldiers killed and a number of others injured, a security official told Xinhua.
Armed confrontations between the soldiers and the al-Qaida attackers lasted about half an hour at the checkpoint in the coastal city of Shuqra in the eastern outskirts of Abyan province, the security source said.
Elsewhere in the war-torn Arab country, suspected U.S. warplanes launched a series of airstrikes against al-Qaida-held positions in the southeastern province of Shabwa and in neighboring province of al-Bayda on Saturday night.
Residents confirmed to Xinhua that U.S. drones and apache choppers fired missiles on a house in Yakla village in al-Bayda province, leaving unknown number killed and injured at the scene.
The mountainous areas in Shabwa an Abyan provinces have been the scene of U.S. drone attacks and clashes between Yemeni security forces and militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch since the emergence of the group in country eight years ago.
The militant group has yet to make comments about the latest U.S. airstrikes that targeted its positions for the fifth consecutive day.
Yemen, an impoverished Arab country, has been gripped by one of the most active regional Al-Qaida insurgencies in the Middle East.
The Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also known locally as "Ansar al-Sharia," emerged in January 2009, has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against Yemen's army and governmental institutions.
The AQAP and the IS-linked militants took advantage of the security vacuum and ongoing civil war to expand their influence and seize more territories in southern Yemen.
Security in Yemen has deteriorated since March 2015, when war broke out between the Shiite Houthi group, supported by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Over 10,000 people have been killed in ground battles and airstrikes since then, many of them civilians.