At least three soldiers and two al- Qaida militants were killed on Tuesday in clashes at a security checkpoint in Yemen's province of al-Hodayda, an interior ministry official told Xinhua. The clashes erupted early morning when the militants first attacked the security checkpoint in Jabal Ras area, some 200 km west of the capital Sanaa, the official said on condition of anonymity. Four al-Qaida fighters were arrested during the two-hour fighting before the militants fled to mountainous areas in nearby province of Dhamar, the official said, adding that a backup of security forces have moved to track them down. Also on Tuesday, al-Qaida militants kidnapped a high-ranking intelligence officer in Shabwa's provincial capital city of Ataq, local security officials said. Last week, al-Qaida militants killed 24 Yemeni soldiers in an attack on the military barracks in the southeast province of Hadramout. The al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has been waging escalating insurgency against the Yemeni government for more than three years. The group is considered the most strategic threat to Yemen and neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.