A militant attack in southern Yemen on Tuesday killed five fighters loyal to a secessionist force, a military spokesperson said.
Mohammed al-Naqib, the spokesman for Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces, said that the dawn attack in Wadi Omran in Abyan province hit the affiliated Southern Armed Forces who are “tasked with confronting Al-Qaeda” in the region.
In a statement, he said “five troops were killed and four others were wounded” in the attack that involved heavy fire from artillery, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades.
He said the militants infiltrated the area from the neighboring Al Bayda governorate.
Al-Naqib did not say who was behind the operation, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the area is subject to frequent attacks by Al-Qaeda fighters.
In June, suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed two Yemeni soldiers at a military checkpoint in the southern province of Shabwa.
Yemen erupted into conflict in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa, before a Saudi-led military coalition intervened the following year on the side of the country’s internationally recognized government.
The impoverished country is also a hotbed for jihadists such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered by the United States to be the jihadist group’s most dangerous offshoot.
A leading AQAP member, Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, was killed in late February in southern Yemen in a suspected US air strike.
The war in Yemen has killed hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in what the United Nations has called one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
But fighting has largely died down since a six-month UN-brokered ceasefire that began in April last year.