SANAA (Reuters) - Three gunmen were killed when they tried to attack a security checkpoint in the Yemeni capital early on Sunday, the interior ministry said, in an attack residents said was near the presidential palace in Sanaa.

The clash came two days after a gunfight near the presidential palace and what appeared to be an assassination attempt on the defense minister in the southern province of Shabwa.

"Three terrorists were killed at dawn today in a new attack that targeted a security checkpoint," interior ministry spokesman, Mohammed al-Qaidy, said.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Heavens)