Six Yemeni army soldiers were killed in an ambush by suspected al-Qaida gunmen Wednesday in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, a security official told Xinhua. The attack took place in the Nushyma region near the Belhaf port in Shabwa, the only port used to export natural gas in Yemen. The soldiers, who were on a military patrol, were ambushed by a group of well-armed assailants and killed at the scene, the security source said on condition of anonymity. A local government official confirmed the incident to Xinhua, saying "The circumstances of the armed attacks remain unclear. Suspected al-Qaida attackers were likely behind the terrorist operation." The Arab country, which has witnessed political upheaval since 2011, is facing repeated attacks and assassination attempts against the army and government institutions and officials. No group has claimed responsibility for the ambush, however the militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot were blamed for a series of assassination attacks, mostly in the country's southern regions. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which emerged in January 2009, is considered a strategic threat to the Yemeni government and neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.