A Yemeni military official says a suicide bomber drove his vehicle through a checkpoint between two southern towns and blew it up, killing three soldiers and himself.

The official said the blast Tuesday also wounded five soldiers on the highway to the town of Lawder in Abyan province.

Al Qaeda-linked militants are trying to regain control of the town after residents expelled them.

The attack comes during a widening government offensive against Al Qaeda's presence in Yemen's southern provinces.

Another Yemeni military official said a suspected U.S. air raid killed five Al Qaeda militants in Azzan in the southern Shabwa province late Monday. U.S. drones have targeted Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen in the past.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.