Four soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in a a fierce firefight between Yemeni troops and suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen near the southern city of Zinjibar on Sunday, a military official said.
Three gunmen were also killed in the clash, according to a medical source.
The clash erupted at Dofes, a village south of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, as troops tried to advance towards the city that has been mostly in the hands of gunmen since late May, the official said.
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The four bodies were transferred to a military hospital in Aden, as well as the 12 wounded soldiers, including a colonel, the official said.
A medical source at the hospital said that the bodies of three gunmen killed n the firefight were brought in by the army.
Since the end of May, fighters linked to Al-Qaeda have seized control of several Abyan towns, taking advantage of the weakening of central authority amid nationwide protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The veteran leader has been recovering in Saudi Arabia for more than two months from bomb blast wounds.