* Army says foils coordinated attack on main regional army HQ
* Medics, local newspaper say 6 soldiers, 3 militants killed
* Latest in a string of attacks by Islamist militants (Updates death toll, adds separate incident from earlier day)
By Mohammed Mukhashaf
ADEN, April 2 (Reuters) - At least six Yemeni soldiers and three militants died in a raid on a major army headquarters in Aden on Wednesday, medics and local media said, the latest in a string of attacks by Islamist militants exploiting turmoil in the country.
State news agency Saba quoted a security source in the city as saying al Qaeda militants tried to storm the army's Fourth Division headquarters in Aden's al-Tawahi district after detonating a car laden with explosives outside the main gate.
The security source told Saba the attack had been foiled, but a medical source at a nearby military hospital told Reuters that the bodies of six soldiers were brought into the facility after the incident.
Aden al-Ghad, a local newspaper close to southern separatists, said on its website that at least three of the attackers also died during the raid.
The Fourth Division is in charge of the military in southern Yemen. Tawahi houses some of the country's main state facilities in Aden, including the presidential palace, the local secret service offices and the local radio and television studios.
Witnesses in Tawahi said they had heard the sounds of rocket propelled grenades as soldiers closed off roads to the area and engaged the attackers.
Yemen has been in turmoil since mass protests forced long-term leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in 2012. His successor, Abd-Rabbu Mansour, Hadi has been struggling to restore order.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden and militants have plotted attacks against international airlines from there.
On Tuesday, two Yemeni soldiers and two al Qaeda militants were killed during a clash in the western al-Hudaida province, the Interior Ministry said on its website.
The website, quoting a source at the ministry, said that the clash broke out when militants tried to free four of their comrades who had been seized in a raid by security forces on their hideout earlier in the day.
Saba later identified two of the captured militants as being Saudi citizens.
AQAP, reinforced by Saudi militants who had gained battle experience in Syria and Iraq, has staged a series of spectacular attacks on the Yemeni army since 2011.
In September last year, dozens of militants stormed the headquarters of the army's Second Division in al-Mukalla, the provincial capital of the southeastern Hadramout province, taking some military personnel hostage before the army retook the facility.
Last month, suspected militants killed 20 members of Yemen's security forces in a dawn raid on a checkpoint located some 120 kms (75 miles) east of al-Mukalla. (Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Angus McDowall/Alison Williams/Susan Fenton)
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