A bombing in southern Yemen on Thursday killed four fighters loyal to a secessionist force, including a prominent commander who previously survived assassination attempts by Al-Qaeda, a security official said.
The roadside bomb detonated while their convoy was near the village of Mudiyah in Abyan province, said the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The convoy had been en route to a flashpoint area that has seen regular confrontations with Al-Qaeda fighters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast which killed Abdullatif al-Sayyid, the commander of the Security Belt Forces in Abyan province.
The force, tasked with protecting southern regions of Yemen, is trained and equipped by the United Arab Emirates and has played a key role in the fight against jihadists.
It is loyal to Yemen’s secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which confirmed Sayyid’s death in a statement.
Sayyid, who led several major offensives against jihadists, had survived several attempts to kill him ordered by Al-Qaeda, the source said.
Thursday’s bombing comes more than a week after a suspected Al-Qaeda attack killed five soldiers in Wadi Omran in Abyan.
In June, suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed two 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 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.