An Al Qaeda fighter was killed on Friday by residents of a town southeast of the Yemeni capital that the extremists seized just four days earlier, a tribal dignitary said.
Residents, who had formed vigilante committees to defend their areas, had an armed clash with Al Qaeda militants trying to take over a school in the centre of Rada, just 130 km southeast of Sanaa, the source said.
One Al Qaeda fighter was killed, he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The militants had moved into Rada on Sunday night, meeting little resistance from security forces, tribal leaders said.
Several sources in the town said more than 1,000 Al Qaeda gunmen invaded Rada, which is within striking distance of a strategic highway connecting Sanaa with the south and southwest.
Al Qaeda-linked militants already control a string of towns in Abyan, Shabwa and Marib provinces, but Rada is the closest they have come to the capital.
Government officials have said Al-Qaeda-linked violence could delay a promised election to choose Saleh's successor that is due to be held on February 21.