Militants from Ansar al Sharia fought security forces near a government compound in Al Houta city.
A suicide bombing and gun attack killed more than 11 people at a local government compound in Yemen, the government said in a statement on Monday.
It was latest in a series of attacks by militants who have exploited a two-year civil war to try and expand their control and recruit fighters.
A suicide bomber attempted to drive a minibus laden with explosives into a government compound in Al Houta, the Lahj provincial capital, but it was intercepted by the security forces.
Militants wearing military uniforms who were riding the bus attacked soldiers. Six security personnel and five attackers were killed in the battle.
Al Qaeda's local wing, known as Ansar al Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack, saying "dozens were killed or wounded" in a suicide bombing and gun attack.
Al Qaeda and Daesh have carried out a series of attacks, often targeting security forces or government facilities in southern Yemen.
The US has recently stepped up attacks on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which it sees as a threat to western interests.