Clashes on Tuesday between Yemeni forces and Al-Qaeda militants in Aden killed at least six people, including four members of the same family, security officials and witnesses said.

Al-Qaeda controls part of the southern port city which has become the temporary headquarters of the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi as it battles to retake large parts of Yemen from Shia Houthi rebels.

Forces loyal to Hadi laid siege early on Tuesday to Aden's central Mansura district and clashed with militants, while coalition Apache helicopters provided air cover, security officials in the city said.

The operation was part of a bid to drive the jihadists out of the city.

Four members of one family were killed when a rocket hit their house in the neighbourhood of Kabouta near Mansura, a relative said.

The victims were Rowais Othman Saleh, his wife and two daughters, the relative said, adding that a third daughter aged five was wounded.

The source of the rocket was not clear.

At least two gunmen were also killed in the fighting, officials said.

A large fire also engulfed Alshamil shopping centre in Mansura during the clashes, according to an AFP photojournalist.

Residents of the neighbourhood said warplanes also hovered overhead and that they feared for their lives.

"We live in terror... We got rid of the Houthis and now Al-Qaeda militants have come to turn our lives into hell," said one resident.

Loyalists backed by a Saudi-led coalition have since July recaptured Aden and four other southern provinces from the Shia rebels, who continue to control Sanaa and other northern regions.

Al-Qaeda and the rival jihadist Islamic State group have taken advantage of the weakness of the central government to gain ground in southern cities such as Aden.

Both have a presence in Yemen's second city, where jihadists occupy government buildings and are seen patrolling several districts and intimidating civilians.

They have claimed a string of attacks and assassinations in recent months.

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