A suicide bomber killed five people and wounded three on Friday when he blew up his vehicle at the gate of a Yemeni army base, security sources said.
The bomber struck Najda Camp in the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar just 55 kilometres (33 miles) along the coast from second city Aden where the government has its headquarters.
He failed to get through the gate and heavy exchanges of fire ensued as other assailants tied to penetrate the base.
There was no immediate claim for the attack but a military source said it bore the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda.
The jihadist network has taken advantage of nearly two years of fighting between government forces and Shiite rebels who control the capital Sanaa to entrench its presence in swathes of the south.
The jihadists briefly overran two other Abyan province towns earlier this year.
© Agence France-Presse