Fifteen newly-recruited Yemeni soldiers were killed in a suicide car bombing at a military checkpoint in Shabwa province on Tuesday, an official said.

“The suicide assailant died on the spot after detonating his explosives-laden car at a military checkpoint in Nokhan area of Shabwa province, killing 15 soldiers,” the local government official told Xinhua news agency.

He said the targeted checkpoint was manned by a special Yemeni Army unit backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the government officials blamed it on the Yemen-based Al Qaeda branch.

Al Qaeda militants are intensifying drive-by attacks on security checkpoints in Yemen’s southern provinces as UAE-backed government forces tighten military operations against their hideouts.

In the past months, government forces and the UAE armed forces operating in Aden province launched an anti-terror offensive to root out Al Qaeda militants from their strongholds in the neighbouring province of Abyan.

The UAE-backed anti-terror campaign has dislodged Al Qaeda militants from several villages in Abyan and in the neighbouring Shabwa province, with more than 50 of them arrested and imprisoned in Aden.