Suspected al-Qaeda militants on Wednesday attacked an army post in al-Baida, central Yemen, killing at least nine soldiers, according to local medical sources.
The militants used a car bomb to target the headquarters of Yemeni special forces in the city just after midnight, local journalist Fahd al-Tawil told dpa.
Clashes continued in the area for four hours before the attackers withdrew, al-Tawil said.
A claim of responsibility for the attack was made on a purported Twitter account of a front organization for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The account has been previously used to claim responsibility for a number of other attacks.
The militants hit a total of five security posts and a government building in the city, the post on Twitter read.
AQAP is seen as one of the international jihadist network’s most active and dangerous branches.
Tensions are high in Yemen after the Houthi Shiite rebel movement, which last month seized control of the capital Sana’a, rejected the appointment of a new prime minister.
Under a peace agreement signed after the Houthi takeover, a consensus government is to be formed in parallel with the withdrawal of rebel checkpoints from the capital.
But the Shiite rebels said that President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi’s choice of presidential aide Ahmad Awd Mubarak to head the government was not in line with the agreement.
The Houthis’ position gained support Wednesday from former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose party issued a statement rejecting Mubarak’s appointment.
Echoing the Houthis’ complaints, Saleh’s General People’s Congress – to which Hadi also belongs – said that Mubarak did not meet the agreed criteria for the consensus premier.
The Houthi power base is in Yemen’s mainly Shiite far north, but their populist rhetoric has gained them wider support elsewhere, including in some Sunni areas.
AQAP is mainly active in remote areas of south Yemen, where the government and security force presence is weak. But an increasing number of AQAP attacks in recent weeks have targeted the Shiite rebels, whom the jihadists see as heretics.