ADEN, Yemen, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni anti-terror troops killed two leading members of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch in the southern province of Abyan on Wednesday, a security official told Xinhua.
The two were killed in a shootout with the anti-terror troops who raided their hiding place in Alwadhea district of Abyan province, the security source said on condition of anonymity.
"The two leaders refused to surrender themselves voluntarily and engaged in an armed confrontation with the soldiers in the area," the local source said.
He said that the forces found explosives, a number of guns, grenades and ammunition in their possession.
According to the security source, the pair were leading field commanders of the terrorist group in Yemen and wanted by the local authorities for their participation in armed attacks.
Over the past few months, the Yemeni security forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have arrested dozens of al-Qaida militants in similar raids in Abyan and other neighboring southeastern provinces.
The al-Qaida network, mostly operating in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country.
Scores of al-Qaida militants engaged in the ongoing fighting against the Shiite Houthis in al-Bayda province and other Yemeni provinces.
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 southeastern provinces.