SANAA, Yemen — A Yemeni military official says clashes and artillery shelling in the country's south has killed 16 al-Qaida-linked militants and four soldiers.

The official said on Tuesday the fighting took place overnight outside the city of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

He says there was intensive army artillery shelling of several areas around Zinjibar and that seven wounded soldiers were flown by a helicopter to a hospital in the capital Sanaa. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the military regulations.

Al-Qaida-linked militants have overrun swaths of territory in Abyan, taking advantage of a security vacuum that has developed as a result of Yemen's ongoing political unrest.