A car rigged with explosives carrying five men pulled up to a military base in the district of Mudiya in Abyan, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Four men wearing explosive belts ran out of the car and towards the base, and were all shot dead.
The vehicle then exploded outside of the base, killing the driver and three soldiers from a UAE-backed contingent in the Yemeni army.
Yemen's southern provinces, including Abyan, are the site of a long-running US drone war against Al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has flourished in the chaos of Yemen's civil war, which pits the Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against Shiite Huthi rebels.
The United States, the only government to operate drones over the impoverished country, considers AQAP to be the radical group's most dangerous branch and backs the UAE- trained contingent in southern Yemen.
More than 8,600 people have since been killed, according to the World Health Organization.
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