Seven killed in Yemen prison attack, 29 escape

Sanaa, Feb 14: Yemen's interior ministry said Friday that 29 prisoners, most of them al Qaeda inmates, escaped during attacks on the central prison in the capital Sanaa Thursday night, which left seven people dead and four wounded.

Citing a statement issued by the ministry and carried by the official Saba news agency, Xinhua reported that 19 of the 29 prisoners were convicted of terrorism-related charges and they escaped through a hole blown open by a car bomb in the prison's western wall, taking advantage of chaos when the guards exchanged fire with a group of gunmen.

The ministry released the list of names of the 29 prisoners, three of whom were accused of plotting to assassinate Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The ministry said in a statement Thursday night that it foiled the attempt by terrorists to break into the central prison, and the attack left seven people dead and two wounded, without specifying whether the victims were civilians or soldiers.

It also said that some prisoners took advantage of the chaos and managed to escape and it launched an investigation into the attack and sent soldiers to search for the escaped prisoners.

Meanwhile, a one-minute video recorded by a resident and posted on local media showed that the clashes started with a brief exchange of gunfire around the prison with several shells shining in the sky, followed by a powerful explosion.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was blamed by the government for such kind of attacks.

Security personnel have blocked roads leading to the prison in northern Sanaa, which is close to the country's main airport.

Yemen has been battling the Al Qaeda group which killed hundreds of government officials and military officers, and frequently attacked state and military institutions in the past two years.

The security situation in Yemen worsened after political upheaval broke out in 2011 and severely weakened government control.

Tribal fighters and the Al Qaeda group frequently attacked government interests, foreign missions and kidnapped foreigners.

Three Westerners have been kidnapped in less than two weeks in Sanaa.

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