Suspected al-Qaeda fighters have killed five Yemeni soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint southeast of Sanaa, an official has said, while two of the assailants were reportedly killed.

The attack targeted an army checkpoint in the district of Rada, where the interior ministry said late on Friday that it had mounted security measures following intelligence about possible attacks.

Five soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the attack, the local government official said.

A gunfight was still ongoing on Saturday afternoon, and some gunmen were also killed, he added.

The Sep.net news website, which is linked to the Yemeni defence ministry, said two gunmen died in the exchange of gunfire.

Meanwhile, a provincial military intelligence chief was shot and killed on Saturday, a security official said, the latest in a series of killings in the impoverished state's lawless south and east.

The gunmen opened fire from a motorbike, killing Colonel Ahmed Abdulrazzaq, intelligence head in Hadramawt Province, outside his home in Mukalla on the Arabian Sea.

Around 60 military and security officials have been assassinated in southern and eastern Yemen in the past two years.

Al-Qaeda loyalists seized large swathes of the south and east in 2011, taking advantage of a decline in central government control during a prolonged uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2012.

Government troops have since recaptured much of the territory with support from deadly US drone strikes but armed groups retain bases in the desert east.

Source: Agencies