Al-Qaeda militants killed some 20 Yemeni security force members in an assault in the southern Abyan province on Tuesday, a southern military spokesperson said, before all eight attackers were killed.
The militants used rocket-propelled grenades, light and medium weapons and military vehicles in the ambush on a security checkpoint in Ahwar district, Mohammed al-Naqib, spokesperson for Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces, told Reuters.
Yemen's main southern separatist group STC, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, last month expanded its presence throughout Abyan in what it described as a move to combat "terrorist organizations," specifying al-Qaeda.
Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has used the conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthis to enhance its influence.
AQAP has survived an intensive campaign over the last decade from the US military, the coalition and the Houthis, taking advantage of Yemen's mayhem, tribal sympathies and large and empty swathes of south Yemen.
The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from the capital, Sanaa. The Houthis are de facto authorities in the north while the Saudi-backed government is based in the south.