ADEN, Yemen, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- At least five soldiers of Yemen's government forces were killed and several others injured in an intense clash with al-Qaeda militants in the country's turbulent southern province of Abyan on Thursday, a military official said.
The soldiers were killed in an hours-long battle with the al-Qaeda militants after the government forces carried out a carefully planned operation to eliminate al-Qaeda's presence in the valley of Rafadh, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Despite the casualties, the source said government forces succeeded in seizing control of several key locations from al-Qaeda in the rugged area after the military operation.
Although the casualties of al-Qaeda militants cannot be verified, the source said a number of bodies were found in the valley after the clash.
Several al-Qaeda militants managed to escape from the offensive, leaving their weaponry and munitions behind, according to the official.
Saudi-backed government forces frequently clash with al-Qaida militants, who try to take advantage of Yemen's civil war to strengthen their foothold.
Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2014, with the Houthis fighting against the internationally-recognized Yemeni government. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in the conflict in support of the Yemeni government in 2015.