Gunmen in military uniforms ambushed a police headquarters in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on Saturday, killing 10 security officers and freeing several detainees.
Yemen is struggling to curb a growing separatist movement in the south and cement a ceasefire with Shi'ite rebels in the north.
Firing automatic weapons and mortars, the attackers managed to enter the intelligence police headquarters, surprising security forces there during a flag ceremony, a security official told Reuters.
"The high number of casualties was due to the fact that the attack came during the morning flag salute," the official said, adding that "some detainees" were freed by attackers.
Ten security agents, including two women, were killed and there were eight wounded from among security forces and passersby outside the building, he said.
There was a heavy exchange of gunfire for more than an hour, and flames raged through part of the building, located near the state television headquarters in the seaport.
Police set up checkpoints across Aden after the attack.
"A number of suspects have been arrested," the security official said, declining to give details.
Saturday's attack came a day after al Qaeda's Yemen-based regional branch threatened to respond to a state crackdown against it in eastern Yemen, calling on local tribesmen to take up arms against the government.
The al Qaeda statement reacted to operations launched by the military in the eastern province of Maarib last week in an attempt to catch suspected al Qaeda gunmen believed to be behind the ambush of a Yemeni military convoy that killed a commander and a soldier.
"We the mujahideen of the Arabian Peninsula will not stand idly by as this happens to our women, children, and brothers," said an al Qaeda statement, posted on an Islamist site often used by militants.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 19 Haziran 2010, 14:52