ADEN, Yemen, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch launched an armed attack against a base of the newly-recruited security forces in the country's southern province of Abyan early on Friday, leaving 20 soldiers killed, a government official told Xinhua.
The government source based in Abyan said on condition of anonymity that "scores of al-Qaida fighters stormed the security base in Mahfed district of Abyan province, aiming to seize control over the key location."
He said that intense armed confrontations were sparked between the security forces and the al-Qaida assailants inside the base for several hours.
Heavy reinforcements from Yemeni security forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrived later and managed to expel the terrorists from the base and the surrounding area, he said.
The clashes with the al-Qaida attackers left nearly 20 soldiers killed and several others injured at the scene, according to the government source.
Several terrorists of the al-Qaida group were also killed in the same fighting, but no exact casualty figures among the attackers were mentioned.
The attack occurred just a day after deadly assaults by the Houthi rebels and a suicide bomber in the neighboring southern port city of Aden, leaving around 49 killed.
Al-Qaida militants who have intensified their armed attacks against the pro-government Yemeni forces over the past couple of months have yet to make comment on the situation.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which mostly operates in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country.
The 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 from time to time.
The AQAP has exploited years of deadly conflicts between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in the southern and southeastern provinces.