Yemeni security forces stop cars at a makeshift security checkpoint along a desert road in the Beihan district in Shabwa province. (AFP Photo)
ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- About 15 newly-recruited Yemeni soldiers were killed on Tuesday morning when a suicide car bombing struck a military checkpoint in the southeastern province of Shabwa, a government official told Xinhua.
"The suicide assailant died on the spot after detonating his explosives-laden car at a military checkpoint located in Nokhan area of Shabwa Province, killing about 15 soldiers," the local government official said on condition of anonymity.
He said the targeted checkpoint was manned by a special Yemeni army backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A military source in Shabwa said more details would be unveiled later in the day.
Security forces backed by armored vehicles have cordoned off the area for precautionary measures.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yemeni government officials blamed it on the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch.
Al-Qaida militants are intensifying drive-by attacks on security checkpoints in Yemen's southern provinces as UAE-backed government forces tighten military operations against their hideouts.
During the past months, government forces and the UAE armed forces operating in the southern province of Aden launched a new anti-terror offensive "to root out al-Qaida militants from their strongholds in neighboring southern province of Abyan."
Thousands of southern recruits joined the campaign with military training and financial support from the UAE forces.
The UAE-backed anti-terror campaign has dislodged al-Qaida militants from several villages in Abyan and in the neighboring southeastern province of Shabwa, with more than 50 of them arrested and imprisoned in Aden.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the U.S. as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of a deadly conflict between the Yemeni internationally-recognized government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in the provinces of Shabwa and Abyan.