Al-Qaida militants ambush and clash with defense minister and senior security officials guards

Yemen security and military officials say al-Qaida militants have ambushed the defense minister's motorcade as it was returning from a visit to strategic areas and a sprawling al-Qaida base recaptured by the army.

Army and security troops were engaged Friday in fierce clashes with militants atop of a hill overlooking the main road in the southern region of Mahfad.

The officials said the assailants fled, leaving three killed and two wounded who were captured by government troops, who sustained three wounded.

Yemeni forces attacks were reportedly backed by U.S. drone strikes targeting a major al-Qaida base hidden in the remote mountains of Mahfad.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.