Saturday, July 11, 2015

Al Qaeda in Yemen release more than 1,200 prisoners from prison in city of Taiz

News agency Saba reported that supporters of Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula(AQAP) attacked the central prison in the city of Taiz and released more than 1,200 prisoners.
This is the largest release of several prison breaks that have freed Yemeni militants. Narratives vary as to exactly how the break happened. It is not clear how many of the prisoners were Al-Qaeda suspects. A local official said the prisoners were able to leave amid heavy clashes between AQAP fighters and army units loyal to former president Saleh, who supports the Houthi rebellion. The Houthis entered the city in March in their advance into the south. A security official claimed that forces linked to Saleh had allowed the prisoners to escape as the Al-Qaeda-linked forces, called "popular commitees" advanced. These groups may be of both AQAP fighters and local Sunni tribal fighters who have joined forces to combat the Houthis. One official said: "Heavy fighting took place near the central prison and the popular committees approached and seized control of the area, but Saleh's forces opened the prison doors."
Three months of bombing has done little to push back the Houthi advance. In the rare cases where the Houthis are losing it is to AQAP or popular militia of the Southern Movement, who want an independent South Yemen. There appears little support for restoring Hadi among those in the battle. Back in April, AQAP released many militants from a prison in Mukalla after army forces loyal to Hadi's government in exile left the city with virtually no resistance.
The Islamic State has become more active in the battle against the Houthis with several violent suicide bombings. The latest attack in Sanaa killed at least 28 people according to local medics.The car bomb targeted two brothers who were mourning the death of a relative. Eight women were among those killed. In March a series of bombings of Houthi mosques killed 142.
The Saudi bombings have continued with some attacks happening in residential areas as they target residences of rebel leaders or Saleh supporters. One attack damaged a historic site and a recent attack hit a UN compound in Aden. A guard was injured at the office of the UN Development Programme in Aden and there was serious damage to the compound according to UN spokesperson Farhan Haq. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a full investigation of the strike. Clashes continue in Aden. There were talks between Houthis and Southern Movement militia in Oman. Some forces have been withdrawn from Aden by the Houthis to reinforce other areas. However, conflict has not ceased in the city.


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