ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's security forces on Tuesday launched an anti-terror operation against the al-Qaida militants in the southern province of Abyan, killing seven militants, a government official told Xinhua.
The security forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) attacked the al-Qaida hideouts in Mudiyah district of Abyan province, sparking a fierce shootout with the group's militants, the official said on condition of anonymity.
During the clashes that lasted about three hours, seven militants were killed and four others were wounded at the scene, the official said.
He added that six members of the UAE-backed Yemeni troops were injured during the operation in Abyan.
Local residents told Xinhua that warplanes launched a number of airstrikes against al-Qaida-held areas in Abyan just a few hours after the start of the anti-terror military operation.
They said that huge explosions were heard in the same places that witnessed armed confrontation with the security forces earlier in the day.
Elsewhere in Abyan, Munir Abu Yamamah, a senior security commander backed by the UAE, survived an assassination attempt in Mahfad town.
A security official said that a group of gunmen ambushed Yamamah's motorcade and clashed with his bodyguards, without causing casualties.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) network, which mostly operates 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 been the scene of sporadic attacks or heavy clashes between UAE-backed security forces and al-Qaida militants from time to time.
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.