Six soldiers die in Yemen suicide blast, Al Qaeda militants killed
Yemen said at least 37 al Qaeda militants were killed in the southern province of Shabwa as the army intensified an offensive to root out foreign and local Islamist fighters holed up in some of the country's most impenetrable areas.
The report by state news agency Saba came shortly after a military source told Reuters a suicide bomber killed six soldiers by their outpost in Shabwa, one of two provinces where the army has been fighting al Qaeda and its allies.
The source, speaking from the battlefront, also told Reuters that 20 soldiers were wounded in the bombing.
The number of attacks against the army and security forces in the south has risen sharply since Yemen's US-backed army launched its anti-al Qaeda offensive last week.
Western countries fear further destabilisation in Yemen, which also faces separatists in the south and unrest in the north, could give more space to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the local branch of the global Islamist militant movement, to plot attacks on international targets.
Washington has used drones for several years to kill members and leaders of the group. In April, air strikes - presumed to be carried out chiefly by US drones - were launched on central and southern provinces of Yemen, which Yemeni authorities said killed some 65 al Qaeda militants.
Saba quoted a military source as saying that most of the militants killed in Sunday's fighting were Saudis, Afghans, Somalis and Chechens, as well as other nationalities.
The source also said the army destroyed a number of vehicles and weapons belonging to the militants.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said in a speech last week that 70 percent of al Qaeda fighters in Yemen were foreigners, although AQAP later denied this.
Separately the defence ministry website said security forces had destroyed a vehicle carrying several "terrorists", killing two of them and wounding four in Shabwa.