Yemeni officials and medics say a fierce battle between government troops and al-Qaida fighters in the country's south has killed at least 30 soldiers and 14 militants.
They say the fighting erupted in the southern province of Abyan on Sunday, when the al-Qaida militants detonated several car bombs and tried to overrun a military post in the Koud region near the provincial capital, Zinjibar.
Medics and officials say many government soldiers were wounded in exchanges of fire with the insurgents. They say the death toll from the fighting is likely to rise.
Al-Qaida militants seized control of Zinjibar last May while the government was pre-occupied with cracking down on nationwide opposition protests against the autocratic rule of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemeni government forces have been trying to reclaim Zinjibar ever since.
Yemen has seen a surge in attacks blamed on al-Qaida since Saleh deputy Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi took office as president last month, under terms of a Gulf-backed deal to resolve the political crisis. Hours after Hadi's February 25 inauguration, a suicide bombing killed 26 soldiers at a presidential palace in the the eastern province of Hadramawt.
Hadi has said fighting al-Qaida and restoring security in the impoverished Arab nation are among his top priorities.