The Yemeni government is battling both a separatist movement and growing al-Qaeda influence in the country [EPA]

Local tribesmen in Yemen have killed at least three soldiers and wounded another in an attack on an army check-post, a Yemeni security official has said.

The official said residents in the southern province of Lahaj opened fire on the army post on Saturday because they were unhappy with the government's decision to deploy troops in the area.

Six of the assailants were also wounded in the clash, an official said.

In a separate incident on Saturday, eight soldiers were injured in the city of Lawdar when their vehicle came under attack. The city was the site of a suspected al-Qaeda ambush that killed nine soldiers on Friday.

Yemen is trying to quell a resurgent wing of al Qaeda that has stepped up attacks on Western and regional targets in the poor Arabian Peninsula state, a neighbour of oil giant Saudi Arabia.

Yemen also faces growing separatist militancy in the south while it tries to maintain a shaky truce with Shi'ite rebels in the north.

Obama renews commitment

US President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned the suspected al Qaeda attack on Yemeni soldiers, and offered his country's support in battling the group.

Obama's counterterrorism aide John Brennan called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to convey Obama's "personal condolences" on the deaths of Yemeni security forces.

Brennan said Obama "strongly condemned the brutal attacks, which reflect the group's clear intent to kill Yemenis who are valiantly seeking to stop al Qaeda's attempts to carry out terrorist attacks in Yemen as well as in other countries".

Brennan told Saleh that "the United States is determined to stand with the government and people of Yemen in confronting al Qaeda and that President Obama is committed to continuing the provision of security, economic, and development assistance to Yemen".

Source: Agencies