ADEN (Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda militants shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer on Thursday in the southern province of Lahj, a local security official said, a day after three air force pilots were killed in a similar attack.

About 60 military and security officials have been shot dead in southern and eastern Yemen since 2011 after an Islamist insurgency erupted, exploiting political chaos caused by a mass uprising that later ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"The officer, Mohammed Ahmed Saleh al-Koobi, was shot with a silenced weapon while he was walking through the streets of his hometown (in Lahj)," the local security official said.

He said the attackers were believed to be linked to Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), seen by Washington as the most dangerous arm of the global jihadi group.

On Wednesday, al Qaeda-associated gunmen killed the air force pilots as they were travelling to a southern air base that is jointly used with U.S. forces to strike at AQAP.

A Yemeni defense ministry statement said that authorities had captured one of the militants involved in that attack.

Clashes between pro-government forces and militants continue in the south, causing jitters beyond Yemen's borders due to its proximity to No. 1 oil exporter Saudi Arabia and sea lanes through which crude is shipped.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)