SHIBAM, Yemen, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that killed at least a dozen troops in eastern Yemen on Friday.
The BBC reported at least 12 pro-government soldiers and 15 militants were killed during a suicide bombing and firefight near the town of Shibam, in Yemen's Hadramawt province.
The Yemen Times, quoting local sources, reported a much higher death toll, saying more than 45 soldiers were killed.
Yemen's IS affiliate claimed to have killed more than 50 troops in the attack -- which Yemeni officials said was conducted by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a rival of IS.
Large portions of Hadramawt province are under AQAP control, according to the BBC.
Since late 2014, a Yemeni IS branch emerged along with several other cells in Pakistan, Libya, Egypt and other countries as militant groups raced to declare allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Since then, IS has claimed a series of attacks in Yemen and other locations.
The assault near Shibam came three days after Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi returned to the southern port city of Aden for the second time after taking refuge in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
Amid rapid advances by Shia-affiliated Houthi rebels, Hadi fled the country in March as a Saudi-led coalition of regional Sunni powers began conducting air and ground operations against the Houthis.
The United Nations estimates at least 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen since then.