At least 20 soldiers were killed when militants of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda branch launched an armed attack against a base of the newly-recruited security forces in the country’s Abyan province on Friday, officials said.

“Scores of Al Qaeda fighters stormed the security base in Mahfed district of Abyan province, aiming to seize control over the key location,” a government official based in Abyan was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

He said that intense armed confrontations went on between the security forces and the Al Qaeda assailants inside the base for several hours.

Heavy reinforcements from Yemeni security forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrived later and managed to expel the terrorists from the base and the surrounding area, the official said.

The clashes with the Al Qaeda attackers left 20 soldiers dead and injured several others at the scene, according to the government official.

Several terrorists of the militant group were also killed in the same fighting, but no exact casualty figures among the attackers were mentioned.

The attack occurred just a day after deadly assaults by the Houthi rebels and a suicide bomber in the neighbouring Aden city, left 49 dead.