Attack on Yemen prison frees dozens of militants

The New York Times reports:

Gunmen attacked the main prison in Yemen’s southern port city of Mukalla on Wednesday in a coordinated strike that freed at least 40 prisoners, according to security and ruling party officials.

The attack underscored the country’s worsening security situation, and came as State Department envoy, Jeffrey D. Feltman, began two days of meetings in the capital, Sana, with Yemen’s vice president and top ruling party officials. They were to discuss the political crisis here, which deepened earlier this month when President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia after an attack on his presidential compound.

Ahmed Sofan, a prominent ruling party official, said the jailbreak provided “another sign of what happens when a country is collapsing.”

He said many of the escaped prisoners were Islamic militants but that it was unclear whether they were members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the local branch of the terrorist network. News agencies, citing anonymous Yemeni security sources, reported that many of the prisoners belonged to the group.

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