The murder of a local al-Qaeda leader during a family dispute in his Yemen stronghold has resulted in at least 16 killed in clashes.

The fighting began after terror chief Tarek al-Dahab was shot dead by his half-brother Hizam in the town of al-Masaneh in Baya province on Thursday.

Several local tribal chiefs told AFP that al-Masaneh the al-Dahab a family fiefdom.

The slain man's followers later blew up Hizam's house, killing him, according to local reports.

"Al-Qaeda gunmen fired rockets at the house of Hizam, killing him and his brother Majid, as well as their nephew Ahmed," a source told AFP.

Eleven armed tribesmen were then killed when the vehicle transporting them was also targeted.

One tribal chief told Al Jazeera that Hizam was "pushed by authorities" to kill Dahab, who had in January taken over control of the town of Radah.

Dahab was appointed to be the local "emir," or prince, when his gunmen seized Radah, but were forced to quit the town after nine days amid a tribal putsch aimed at ejecting them.

Tarek al-Dahab was married to the sister of US-born cleric and terror mastermind Anwar al-Awlaqi, killed in a suspected US drone strike in September.

In August, the 15-member UN Security Council said it was "deeply concerned at the worsening security situation, including the threat from al-Qaeda", in Yemen.

Al-Qaeda took full advantage of the almost year of deadly protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to bolster their presence and seize territory in southern Yemen.

In November, after 10 months of bloody protests, Saleh agreed to transfer his constitutional powers to his deputy Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, ending his 33-year reign.

Saleh is currently in the US to be receive further treatments for wounds sustained in a 3 June 2011 assassination attempt in Sanaa.

He is said to be seeking permanent refuge in the Persian Gulf region and is not expected to return to Yemen.