At least 57 Islamist fighters and Yemeni troops were killed after al Qaeda militants launched their latest audacious attack on an army base in the south of the country Monday.
Members of Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) were eventually beaten back by Yemeni troops and aircraft, which bombed a captured checkpoint at the base in Abyan province, about 75 miles (130 kilometers) from the port city of Aden.
Twenty-seven fighters were killed in the dawn raid, while a further five were killed when warplanes bombed the captured checkpoint, according to Reuters.
Eighteen soldiers, an army colonel, and six pro-government tribesmen were also killed in the fighting, the report said.
The attack is the latest in a series of setbacks for Yemen's government, which has lost control of large parts of Abyan province.
The attacks came a day after Ansar al-Sharia reiterated calls for the government to release 600 captured militants in exchange for 73 Yemeni soldiers held hostage by the group for more than a month.
Yemen's acting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has faced severe challenges since taking office in February vowing to fight al Qaeda.
Only days into his rule, more than 100 soldiers were killed in attacks.
According to Reuters, local tribesmen joined the fighting alongside the military on Monday.
We ask for the state and the army to provide us with heavy weapons because we are fighting with our own personal arms and the other side has advanced weapons like rocket-propelled grenades and bazookas, said Ali Ayda, a tribal fighter.
We will not surrender our town until death.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have formed a close partnership with the beleaguered Yemeni government, with the Americans sending logistical support, experts and attack drones to aid the military in its fight against al Qaeda-inspired militants.
Last week. U.S. and Saudi pressure forced the dispersal of a cabal of military officers who had blockaded the country's main airport in the capital, Sanaa.
The group threatened to shoot down any aircraft attempting to use the runways, in protest of the ousting of Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in a recent government shuffle.