SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Secessionist rebels attacked a Yemeni army truck carrying food to a unit in the southern Dali province on Tuesday, killing seven soldiers and wounding nine, Yemen's Defense Ministry said.
An opposition leader in the southern secessionist movement, Ali al-Saya, told The Associated Press by telephone from Dali that the clashes were prompted by the army's 33rd brigade random shelling of three districts in Dali that destroyed five houses and killed six people including a child.
The ministry described the attackers on its online forum as "subversive elements" who also set fire to an armored vehicle that accompanied the truck and that the gunmen captured 14 soldiers.
"The government and the army are responsible for this barbaric shelling and the people have the right to defend themselves," al-Saya said.
Al-Saya said angry armed tribesmen set fire to two armored vehicles and seized three army jeeps carrying mounted machine guns and captured 15 soldiers.
The continued confrontations between the army and the tribesmen in the southern Dali province were due to a late December army shelling of a funeral tent that killed 19 people.
Al-Saya said the tribesmen are also angry because the commander of the 33rd Brigade responsible for December's and Tuesday's shelling refused to be investigated by a government committee assigned by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Also on Tuesday, security officials said two unidentified gunmen killed a senior police officer in a drive-by shooting in the northeastern Marib province.
The officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists did not name the slain officer but said he was deputy security chief of the Marib civil status authority and that the attackers fled the crime scene on a motorcycle.
Earlier Tuesday, an explosion struck a military bus taking soldiers to work in the Hizyaz district in the Yemeni capital, killing two troops and wounding 10 others.
Military officials said they were investigating whether the explosion was caused by a bomb hidden on the bus, a roadside device or a suicide bomber. They spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations.
Earlier this month, two soldiers were killed and more than 10 wounded in a blast targeting a military bus in Dar Silm district in Sanaa.
Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, is plagued by an al-Qaida insurgency and has seen scores of attacks on its military and security forces.