AQAP warns Yemen against crackdown over jailbreak bid

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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has warned its response will be “painful” if Yemeni authorities punish prisoners from the extremist network who made a failed attempt to escape their jail.

The security forces foiled an attempt on Tuesday by some 300 al-Qaeda inmates to escape in a mutiny at their intelligence-run prison in the capital Sanaa.

In a video posted on YouTube late Thursday, a top AQAP leader in southern Yemen, Jalal Baledi al-Marqashi, said: “We warn Sanaa’s collaborator regime of the consequences of any attack on the prisoners due to their uprising against their jailers.”

Marqashi vowed that “we will not remain silent and the response will be harsh and painful.”

Al-Qaeda prisoners, “armed with knives and iron bars, attacked prison guards, injuring some of them,” and taking hostages they later freed, a security official said.

The inmates also seized weapons during the jailbreak attempt. None of them were killed but some were wounded, sources said.

In his statement, Marqashi accused the authorities of mistreating the prisoners “from torture, beatings and insults to being held for long periods without charges or reasons as well as unfair and unjust trials.”

Two Yemeni non-governmental groups on Thursday urged the United Nations and international watchdogs to investigate the “dangerous human rights violations” in the country’s prisons.

The Centre for Civil and Political Rights and the Middle East Development Foundation called on Yemen to form a committee to probe the alleged “suffering” of prisoners which included “killing, wounding, and torturing”.

AQAP chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi vowed in August to release imprisoned members of the network.

Wuhayshi himself escaped from the same Sanaa prison with 22 other members of AQAP in February 2006 and was named as the group’s leader a year later.

AQAP -- seen by the United States as the network’s deadliest franchise -- has taken advantage of the weakening of the central government in Sanaa since a popular uprising that toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

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