SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's defense minister escaped an assassination attempt by suspected al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen on Friday, a security source told Reuters.
The source said Muhammad Nasir Ahmad and a number of senior security officials were attacked by gunmen while travelling in their vehicles in the province of Shabwa.
"They opened fire on the convey, but no one was killed or wounded, the minister is safe," said the source. No immediate claim was made for the attack.
In a separate incident on Friday, four Yemeni soldiers were killed and three wounded in an ambush by suspected al Qaeda fighters in the central Yemeni province of al-Bayda, local tribal sources told Reuters.
Al Qaeda blames the defense minister for leading a campaign that drove it from strongholds in southern Yemen, an area that Washington considers one of the main battlefields in its global campaign against Islamist militants.
The defense minister had faced at least five assassination attempts since December 2011, when Yemen's new government was formed after a power transfer deal under which long-ruling president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down.
(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Editing by Amena Bakr and John Stonestreet)