ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- At least two pro-government security members were killed on Saturday evening in an attack launched by the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch on a checkpoint in the southern province of Abyan.
A group of al-Qaida gunmen carried out an armed attack and targeted a security checkpoint in Mudiyah district of Abyan, killing two soldiers at the scene, said a military official on condition of anonymity.
The attack occurred at around 11 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) and sparked a ferocious gun battle between the pro-government forces and al-Qaida attackers, according to the official.
A local official in Abyan confirmed the attack, saying a group of al-Qaida gunmen failed to seize a security outpost manned by newly-recruited forces.
"The attackers opened heavy fire and used grenades in an attempt to seize control over security outpost but faced stiff resistance from the soldiers positioned in the area and fled to unknown locations," the official said also on condition of anonymity.
On Friday, Yemeni government forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), launched a military operation against an al-Qaida hideout in the southeastern province of Shabwa, sparking fierce armed confrontations in the area.
The hours-long armed confrontations killed seven al-Qaida members and three soldiers including an officer, according to local sources.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) network, mostly operating in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country.
Provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, former main strongholds of AQAP, have also witnessed sporadic attacks or heavy clashes between UAE-backed security forces and al-Qaida militants.
The AQAP, 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.