Gunmen shot dead a police officer in Yemen's second largest city Taez, a security official told AFP on Monday, in the latest in a series of shootings targeting security forces.

Two masked gunmen on a motorbike opened fire at commander Abdel Malek Saleh, who was driving late Sunday in the city centre, the source said without giving further details.

Attacks against members of the security forces have increased in recent months in Yemen, but mainly take place in the country's lawless southern and eastern provinces, where jihadist groups are active.

Authorities have blamed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for a recent spate of drive-by shootings carried out using unlicensed motorbikes, but the militant group has never claimed such an attack.

On Saturday, gunmen severely wounded an army colonel from Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's extended family in the restive south in an attack carried out by men on a motorbike and blamed by a security official on Al-Qaeda.

AQAP seized large swathes of territory during the chaos unleashed by a 2011 uprising that forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. The government has since retaken much of the lost territory.

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