Yemeni military officials say government troops have killed 17 al-Qa'ida militants in the latest fighting in the south.
The officials say the fighting raged until this morning around Azan town in southern Shabwa province, one of the few remaining al-Qa'ida strongholds. Six soldiers were wounded.
Yemeni warplanes pounded militant hideouts in the mountains surrounding Azan on Friday but the officials say casualty figures from those bombings were not available because of the ruggedness of the terrain.
The military has advanced against al-Qa'ida strongholds in the south. Troops on Friday took Shoqra, the last town under militant control in Abyan province, which borders Shabwa.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.