ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- At least three Yemeni soldiers were killed and several wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in the country's southern province of Abyan on Friday, a security official told Xinhua.
The local security source based in the city said the roadside blast ripped through a security checkpoint near the main entrance of Mafad area, killing at least three soldiers and wounding several others at the scene.
"Three soldiers from the newly-recruited troops backed by the United Arab Emirates were killed in the roadside explosion in Abyan," said the security official who declined to be named.
He added that "Investigation is underway and we have launched a manhunt for the perpetrators of this terrorist act aimed at destabilizing the security situation in the province."
No group has claimed responsibility for the roadside bombing yet, but Yemeni government officials blamed the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch.
Al-Qaida militants are intensifying their drive-by attacks on security checkpoints in the Yemeni southern provinces as UAE-backed government forces increase military operations against their hideouts in the war-plagued Arab country.
During the past months, Yemeni 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 after receiving 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 moved to prisons in Aden.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network's most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in Shabwa and Abyan provinces.