Yemeni police trooper mans mac
Yemeni police trooper mans mac Reuters

Suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked Yemen's presidential palace on Friday, killing five guards and triggering a fierce gunfight as the jihadists hit back at an army offensive aimed at crushing them, AFP reported.

Yemen’s President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi was not at the palace in the capital when the gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by guards outside the compound, a security source told the news agency.

Hadi, whose government has stepped up a war on the Arabian Peninsula country's Al-Qaeda offshoot, does not live in the palace and only uses it for meetings during the day.

Other guards were captured in the unprecedented attack on the checkpoint, the source added.

An exchange of fire ensued and went on for more than 20 minutes, other security sources and witnesses told AFP, amid reports that at least three of the assailants were killed.

Separately, Yemen’s Defense Minister Mohamed Nasser Ahmad and two senior security officers escaped unharmed when Al-Qaeda gunmen ambushed their convoy as they returned from a tour of south Yemen, where the army is battling the jihadists.

The ambush came hours after Ahmad vowed to crush Al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen, saying their end would come soon.

Earlier this week it reported that at least 36 Al-Qaeda terrorists have been killed in an ongoing counterterrorism operation by the Yemeni government in the eastern province of Shabwa.

Yemen's government has been struggling to assert its control over parts of the country held by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and sympathetic local tribesmen. Sanaa's efforts have been backed by the U.S., with drone strikes and other operations inflicting a heavy toll on the group.

AQAP is regarded by Washington as Al-Qaeda's most dangerous franchise and has been linked to failed terror plots in the United States.

A recent unprecedented operation, reportedly carried out by U.S. special forces, succeeded in killing several high-level AQAP operatives, including notorious explosives expert Ibrahim al-Asiri.

It came after an equally unprecedented public meeting of Al-Qaeda commanders in the country.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)