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ADEN, Yemen, July 19 (Xinhua) -- At least five newly-recruited Yemeni soldiers were killed Friday morning when suspected al-Qaida gunmen attacked a military checkpoint in the country's southern province of Abyan, a security official told Xinhua.

The official said on condition of anonymity that the killed soldiers were affiliated to the newly-recruited Yemeni security forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Two armored vehicles were destroyed by the gunmen who used rocket-propelled grenades in their attack, according to the source.

Al-Qaida militants who have intensified their armed attacks against the pro-government Yemeni forces over the past couple of months have yet to make comment on the situation.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which mostly operates in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country.

The provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, former main strongholds of AQAP, have also witnessed sporadic attacks or heavy clashes between UAE-backed security forces and al-Qaida militants from time to time.

The AQAP has exploited years of deadly conflicts between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in the southern and southeastern provinces.