Clashes between al-Qaeda and the army killed 17 militants and two soldiers on Wednesday in southern Yemen, where the military has been fighting to reclaim territory lost last year, military officials said.
An army commander and a soldier were killed in a dawn attack by Qaeda on positions of the 119th Brigade at al-Kud, south of Zinjibar, which is under the control of the jihadists, one army officer said.
The soldiers returned fire, killing and wounding some of the assailants, according to the same source.
On Tuesday night, 17 militants were killed when the army retaliated for an Qaeda attack on southern outskirts of Zinjibar, said an officer in the 25th Mechanized Brigade.
Two troops were wounded in the fighting.
Yemeni forces launched an all-out offensive on May 12 aimed at reclaiming the Abyan provincial capital Zinjibar and other towns and cities lost to Al-Qaeda during the past year.
On Tuesday, five Qaeda militants died in Shaqra, also in Abyan province, when the car bomb they aimed to set off exploded prematurely, a day after a suicide bomber killed four pro-army gunmen in the region.