Sanaa: A suicide attacker driving a pickup truck packed with explosives blew himself up outside an army camp in Yemen's coastal city of Aden on Sunday, killing at least eight soldiers and wounding dozens, security officials said.

The officials said the blast took place near the gate of the camp as a column of vehicles loaded with troops and supplies was preparing to leave for nearby Abyan province to take part in fighting against al-Qaida-linked militants.

Among the dead were two senior officers, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Yemen, an impoverished nation in the Southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, is home to one of the most active al-Qaida branches in the world. Additionally, the country in the midst of a six-month political crisis, with near daily street protests demanding longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

The US fears al-Qaida will take advantage of the unrest to expand its haven in the country and plot attacks against the West.

On Wednesday, a bomb planted in a sport utility vehicle killed a British man in Aden. Authorities announced on Sunday that they had arrested five suspects in that attack.

Officials have repeatedly warned that al-Qaida-linked militants were infiltrating the port city just beyond the Southern mouth of the Red Sea to prepare for attacks there against Yemen's security forces.

The militants control two cities in neighbouring Abyan province and have held on to them in the face of numerous air-strikes and a ground offensive by Government forces.