Protesters in Sanaa on December 16, 2011 show the slogans on their palms asking for the trial and execution of President Saleh.

Story highlights

Seven of the dead are suspected al Qaeda militants, officials say

The clashes broke out when militants attacked government military posts, witnesses say

"It seems that the fighting will not stop any time soon," a resident says

Sanaa, Yemen CNN  — 

Clashes between government troops and suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen left at least 10 people dead Saturday, according to two senior security officials.

The dead included three soldiers and seven suspected militants, the officials said.

At least four government-armored vehicles were also destroyed in the violence, according to the officials.

The clashes took place in four different districts of Yemen’s southern Abyan province in a sign that suspected militants have not been weakened by recent government raids.

Residents in Abyan said that troops conducted house-to-house searches and arrested two suspected militants.

Medics in Aden’s Basuhaib Hospital confirmed to CNN that at least 16 troops injured in the clashes were taken there to receive treatment.

Eyewitnesses told CNN that militants attacked government military posts and checkpoints after spending the past month regrouping in the wake of the raids.

“We hear clashes in different areas of Zinjibar. We expected the militants to attack after so many of them entered the province this month,” said Malik Abdullah, a resident of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan.

Abdullah returned to Abyan last month after living in an Aden shelter for four months. His family, however, is still in Aden.

“I have to watch out for our property, though it is dangerous. We have no other option and it seems that the fighting will not stop any time soon,” Abdullah said.

At least 180 militants have been killed since July in Abyan, where government forces have been attempting for months to retake the province from the hands of extremist groups.

Hundreds of militants suspected to have links with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took control of the majority of Abyan province in May after thousands of government troops evacuated military bases.

More than 100,000 Abyan residents have left the province and are living in shelters in neighboring Lahj and Aden provinces.