Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen seize army HQ in Yemen port city

ADEN (AFP) - Suspected al-Qaeda militants seized army headquarters in Yemeni port city Mukalla on Monday, killing two soldiers as a suicide bomber rammed a car into the entrance, a military official said.

The militants, who were dressed in special forces uniforms and drew up in four military vehicles, stormed the seaside base taking many more soldiers hostage, the official said.

The commander of the army's second military region, General Muhsen Hasan, was in the building at the time of the attack, and is thought to have been captured, another military official said.

Army reinforcements have been deployed to the area and have engaged the militants, the official said, warning that militants would "pay a heavy price" for the spectacular attack.

Mukalla is capital of Yemen's southeastern province of Hadramawt and a major port city.

It is the second major assault on the Yemeni army in 10 days blamed on al-Qaeda in 10 days.

Mukalla is capital of Yemen's southeastern province of Hadramawt and a major port city.

On September 20, suspected al-Qaeda fighters killed at least 56 soldiers and police in coordinated dawn attacks in Shabwa province further west.

That was the deadliest day for the Yemeni security forces since the army recaptured a string of southern towns from the jihadists in a major offensive last year.

Washington regards al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as the global jihadist network's most dangerous affiliate and has stepped up its drone strikes against the group in recent weeks.