Pro-government gunmen fighting Qaeda alongside the Yemeni army have killed 12 suspected militants as jihadists attacked the southern town of Loder, one of the fighters said on Friday.

"Two vehicles were destroyed and 12 fighters killed" late Thursday by the gunmen, he told AFP, adding the militants had attacked the southern entrance to the town in restive Abyan province.

The gunmen, who belong to the so-called Popular Resistance Committees, were supported by army artillery as they pushed the militants back, the fighter said.

He added that four civilians were wounded when two mortars fired by Al-Qaeda suspects struck Loder.

Al-Qaeda seized Loder in August 2010, but the army eventually drove it out.

Source: Agence France-Presse