101°F
weather icon Clear

Al-Qaida suspects among 1,200 escapees from Yemeni prison

SANAA — Around 1,200 prisoners, including al-Qaida suspects, escaped during clashes at a jail in central Yemen on Tuesday, officials said.

The incident is the biggest in a series of prison breaks that have freed Yemeni militants in recent years and signals the further erosion of the state amid a raging civil war.

“Groups of al-Qaida supporters … today attacked the central prison in the city of Taiz and more than 1,200 of the dangerous prisoners escaped,” state news agency Saba quoted a security official as saying.

Another local official told Reuters some of the escapees were “suspected of belonging to al-Qaida” but said they left amid heavy clashes between warring militias in the city.

Shi’ite Muslim Houthi fighters entered Taiz in March, in a southward push from their base in the capital Sanaa that drew military intervention from a Saudi Arabian-led coalition.

But three months of air strikes have yet to push back the group and units in Yemen’s army that are loyal to Houthi ally Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s ex-president.

The security official said army forces linked to Saleh allowed the prisoners to escape as the militiamen, dubbed “popular committees” by their supporters, advanced.

“Heavy fighting took place near the central prison and the popular committees approached and seized control of the area, but Saleh’s forces opened the prison doors,” the official said.

Another group of al-Qaida militants escaped from a prison in the eastern city of Mukalla in April after army forces suddenly quit the city.

Al-Qaidaa and other hardline Sunni groups condemn the Houthis as apostates worthy of death, and the two groups are fighting each other in several areas in central Yemen.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Regulators approve summertime Arizona power shut-off ban

State regulators on Thursday enacted emergency rules barring most Arizona electric utilities from disconnecting power to customers who are late on their bills from June 1 through Oct. 15, when soaring desert heat can be lethal.

 
10-year-old girl climbs Yosemite’s El Capitan

A 10-year-old Colorado girl scaled Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan and may have become the youngest person to climb one of the most celebrated and challenging peaks in the world.

Witness at Navy SEAL trial admits killing victim

A Navy SEAL called by prosecutors to testify at the murder trial of a colleague has acknowledged killing a wounded prisoner in Iraq in what he described as an act of mercy.

Trump vows veto as Senate rejects arms sales to Saudis

The Senate has voted to block the Trump administration from selling arms to Saudi Arabia, launching a new challenge to President Donald Trump’s alliance with the country amid rising tensions in the Middle East.

Americans say focus on asteroids, robots over Mars trip

Americans prefer a space program that focuses on potential asteroid impacts, scientific research and using robots over sending humans to the moon or on to Mars, a poll shows.

Supreme Court says longstanding cross on public land in Maryland OK

A World War I memorial in the shape of a 40-foot-tall cross can continue to stand on public land in Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in an important decision about the use of religious symbols in American life.