Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- A day after an airstrike killed a senior al Qaeda operative in southern Yemen, militants attacked two government military posts in the region, killing 26 soldiers and taking 16 hostage, officials said.
The militants escaped with nearly the entire weapons cache at the posts in Abyan province, including half a dozen armored vehicles and tanks, three local security officials said.
On Sunday, a senior operative of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula wanted for his role in the USS Cole bombing was killed by an airstrike.
Fahd al Quso, 37, was killed while riding in a vehicle in the Rafdh district in Shabwa province, according to the officials.
Al Qaeda members confirmed the death in text messages to local media, saying al Quso died along with a companion identified as Fahd Lakdum.
Al Quso was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2003 on 50 counts of terrorism offenses for his role in the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. The bombing killed 17 U.S. sailors.
In addition to al Quso's status as one of the most-wanted terrorists in Yemen, the FBI had offered a $5 million reward for any information leading to his capture.
He had been at large since escaping in April 2003 with eight others from a Yemeni prison, where they had been held on suspicion of involvement in the Cole bombing.
Yemen began its anti-terrorism efforts last year.
Newly elected President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has vowed to increase the pressure on al Qaeda until they are eradicated from every Yemeni village.
"Our fight against al Qaeda will continue until the displaced citizens can return safely to their homes and terrorist operatives surrender and lay their arms," Hadi said Saturday night in a speech broadcast on Yemen Television.
CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.