ADEN: Seventeen people were killed, including five soldiers, after Al-Qaeda militants launched an attack on an army barracks in southern Yemen on Monday, military and tribal sources said, giving a new toll.
Ten Al-Qaeda fighters, two members of tribes that support the military and five soldiers died in the clashes in Loder, a stronghold of the terror network in restive Abyan province, they said.
A local source in the town of Jaar, where dead and wounded extremists are usually taken, said the bodies of six other slain militants were evacuated from the sector, raising their number of dead to 10 from four.
The barracks, home to the 111th Armoured Brigade of the Yemeni army, had come under fire from the Islamist insurgents before daylight and soldiers returned fire, military sources said.
Heavy fighting ensued as the soldiers were backed by tribesmen. The attack came after air strikes killed 24 suspected Al-Qaeda militants in their strongholds in southern and eastern Yemen at the weekend, according to the defence ministry and a tribal chief.
The city of Loder is located about 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province which the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) overran in May 2011.
The Partisans of Sharia is linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which the United States considers the most active branch of the global
It has exploited a decline in central government control that accompanied Arab Spring-inspired protests that eventually forced Yemen's veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power.
Al-Qaeda briefly overran Loder in August 2010 before being driven out by the army, according to a military source. He said the militants were deployed in numbers around the city and wanted to retake it for its strategic location between Shabwa, Bayda and Lahij provinces where AQAP is active.
"The tribes are fighting alongside the army and we will repel Al-Qaeda. Their plans will fail so long as the local population stands by our side," he said.