Officials report that the terrorists drove a bomb-laden vehicle up to the gate of the base near the town of Shakra and detonated it.
Friday's attack in Abyan province came a day after Yemeni security officials said suspected U.S. drone strikes killed at least seven al-Qaida-linked militants in southern Yemen.
The area was an al-Qaida stronghold until Yemen's army launched an offensive earlier this year to take back areas of the south seized by militants.
Al-Qaida took control of parts of southern Yemen last year during an uprising that ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Suspected militants have carried out suicide bombings and other attacks targeting officials.