ADEN - Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen ambushed and killed six soldiers on Sunday in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, a stronghold of the jihadists, a military official said.‘Gunmen belonging to Al-Qaeda have ambushed an army vehicle’ on a main road outside Mahfad, shooting dead all of the soldiers on board, the official said. The assailants then took the soldiers’ weapons and fled, the official added. In late April, the Yemeni army launched a ground offensive against Al-Qaeda in Abyan and nearby Shabwa province.The operation aimed to expel the militants of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from smaller towns and villages in the two provinces that escaped a previous sweep in 2012. AQAP is considered by Washington as the most dangerous affiliate of the jihadist network for its role in failed attacks against the United States.Taking advantage of a collapse of central authority during a 2011 uprising that forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, AQAP seized swathes of south and east Yemen. At Hajar in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, a soldier was killed and four more wounded when gunmen attacked a security headquarters, Saba state news agency said. It cited a security official as saying the attack was a ‘terrorist’ one.According to an AFP tally compiled from official and other sources, Yemeni security forces lost 374 personnel battling Al-Qaeda, northern rebels and southern separatists as well as in targeted assassinations during the first half of 2014.