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Yemen's Defense Ministry, Associated Press
In this photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry, Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ahmad, center, gestures as he inspects troops at a military site in the southern province of Shabwa, Yemen, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Heavy clashes and airstrikes left six suspected al-Qaida militants and many soldiers dead on Sunday in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province in an ongoing military campaign.

SANAA, Yemen — Fighting and airstrikes in an al-Qaida stronghold in southern Yemen killed six suspected militants and four soldiers Sunday, the military said, part of an ongoing military campaign that killed another 37 fighters overnight.

The government's U.S.-backed campaign in Shabwa province against al-Qaida militants is part of a rolling campaign against the group's hideouts in Yemen.

Washington considers Yemen's al-Qaida in the Arabic Peninsula the most active branch of the group in the world, and has assisted the government with logistics, training and drone attacks. The militants have fought back, targeting government buildings and security forces.

On Sunday, the military said troops backed by air support stormed a hideout of the group in Naqba hills in Shabwa, an operation that killed six suspected militants and four soldiers. The statement said soldiers arrested four wounded militants and destroyed four of their vehicles.

Earlier Sunday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement that airstrikes and clashes killed 37 suspected al-Qaida fighters overnight in the nearby town of Meyfaa. Intermittent violence persists in the area and soldiers remain deployed there. Some families have fled the town for the provincial capital.

Also in Shabwa, security officials said the army exploded land mines in several areas around Meyfaa that they said al-Qaida fighters had laid.

Government officials also said that phone service was cut in some areas in the provinces of Shabwa and Abyan since Sunday morning during the campaign.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.