Yemen prison break leaves 10 Al Qaeda inmates on the run

Extremists escaped from jail in eastern province of Hadramawt after staging fight and overpowering guards

Members of Yemen's Elite Forces paramilitary, which has battled Al Qaeda in Shabwa province, bordering Hadramawt. Photo: The Sanaa Centre
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Ten Al Qaeda militants have escaped from a prison in Yemen's eastern province of Hadramawt, security officials have said.

The inmates staged a quarrel among themselves late on Thursday at the prison in the city of Seiyun, forcing guards to intervene.

But when they did, the prisoners overpowered them, seized their rifles and bound their hands before escaping, prison officials told Associated Press.

Officials said preliminary investigations indicated that the inmates co-ordinated their escape with some prison guards and fellow extremists from outside.

A list of the fugitives' names has been published on social media to help with the hunt, said the officials.

The Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has long been considered the global terror network’s most dangerous branch, and has attempted to carry out attacks on the US mainland.

In 2015, Al Qaeda militants took advantage of Yemen's civil war and overran Mukalla, the main city in Hadramawt, burning government offices, looting banks and detaining local leaders.

Mukalla was the most populous Yemeni city under direct Al Qaeda control until 2016, when the army regained control with support from the regional Arab Coalition backing the government.

Al Qaeda in Yemen has struggled in recent years after sustained security operations by pro-government government forces.

US air strikes have also hit the group.

The group’s leader, Qasim Al Rimi, was killed in a US drone strike in February 2021, four years after his predecessor, Nasir Al Wuhayshi, was killed in a US air strike.

Updated: April 15, 2022, 6:04 PM