SANAA, Yemen - Yemeni officials say pro-government fighters attacked and killed a senior al Qaeda leader and three people travelling in his convoy near a security checkpoint in the southern Abyan province.

Ali Abed al-Rab bin Talab, better known as Abu Anwar, was the extremist group's chief judge in Yemen's largest province, Hadramawt, which al Qaeda largely controls. He survived a suspected U.S. drone attack in 2014.

The officials say Abu Anwar's convoy was heading to the southern port city of Aden when it came under attack on Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Al Qaeda has exploited the chaos of Yemen's civil war to make incursions into the strategic port city.

Yemen's war pits the internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led coalition against Shiite rebels allied with a former president.