SANA’A, Yemen (CNN) — Al-Qaeda fighters attacked a prison in the coastal Yemeni city of al-Mukallah early Thursday, freeing nearly 200 prisoners, a number of whom have al-Qaeda links, security senior security officials have told CNN.
Khaled Batarfi, a senior al-Qaeda figure, was among the prisoners to escape, the officials said.
Dozens of attackers took control of government buildings, including the city’s Central Prison, Central Bank and radio station during the assault early Thursday, according to the officials. Government troops arrived in the early hours of Thursday and clashed with the al-Qaeda fighters, and most of the militants fled, the officials said.
Last month, hundreds of inmates escaped from Al Mansoorah Central Prison in Aden after clashes between Shiite Houthi rebels and forces loyal to ousted Sunni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.
Yemen has been descending into chaos as its Shia-Sunni conflict is drawing in regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
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