Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Yemen: Al-Qa'ida raids a prison freeing militants

On Wednesday 22nd June, armed Al-Qa'ida fighters raided a prison in southern Yemen, freeing dozens of suspected militants, killing one security guard and wounding two others.

Armed with heavy machine guns the militants fought their way through the guards. The prison in Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, is said to house more than a 100 Qa'ida members, 58 of whom have been tried in court and have received sentences.

Spokesman for the civil society organisations in Hadramawt, Nasser Bakazzuz, has accused Yemeni authorities of assisting Al-Qa'ida with the raid and subsequent freeing of militants.

Speaking about it Bakazzuz said, “The regime is living its last days and wants to create chaos in Hadramawt province ... there was no attack by Al-Qa'ida on the jail to free prisoners.”

Just days ago Yemeni troops killed 12 suspected Al-Qa'ida militants near the southern town of Zinjibar. The rebels were targeted while planting roadside bombs. It is estimated that at least a 100 soldiers have been killed and 260 injured since the violence in Zinjibar erupted more than three weeks ago.

Despite President Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure for Saudi Arabia, where he recently underwent surgery for injuries sustained during an attack on his compound in Sana'a, Yemen remains split between government loyalists in the south and tribesmen and renegade military units in the north. There a fears that the situation is getting out of control and could potentially lead to a civil war.

Sources: BBC News, The Guardian, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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