Armed fighters in Yemen have killed at least 17 troops in two separate attacks on a checkpoint and a police patrol.

At least 15 soldiers were killed and four wounded by armed fighters in an attack on an army checkpoint in southeastern Yemen on Friday, an army official said.

The soldiers were ambushed as they were having lunch in a desert area near the city of Shibam, in the eastern province of Hadramout, residents said.

At least five of the attackers were hit and either killed or wounded, but armed fighters carried them away, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The attackers were suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda.

In the second incident, the SABA state news agency said "terrorist elements" carried out an attack on a checkpoint in Bayda, killing two soldiers.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, is struggling to restore state authority after long-serving
President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down in 2011.

Source: Agencies