Yemen: 29 ‘mostly Qaeda’ inmates flee jail

Seven policemen, three militants killed an attack on Sanaa’s central prison

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Militants attacked the central prison of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday helping 29 inmates, including 17 al-Qaeda members escape, security sources said.

Seven policemen and three gunmen were killed in the operation, Al Arabiya correspondent reported, quoting a security source.

Three explosions rang out earlier near the jail, in the capital's north, where officials say around 5,000 prisoners are held, before security reinforcements were dispatched to the area.

Yemen's official news agency says a militant group has attacked the central prison in the capital, killing seven people and helping a number of inmates to escape.

SABA said Thursday's attack started with a car bomb that exploded at the gate of the Sanaa Central Prison, which is located along the main road leading to the airport. It said militants then exchanged gunfire with guards, and a number of prisoners fled amid the chaos.

In October, security forces foiled an attempt by some 300 Al-Qaeda inmates to escape after they mutinied in another Sanaa prison.

A number of guards and inmates were wounded but none were killed .

Nasser al-Wuhayshi, chief of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- seen by the United States as the network's deadliest franchise -- vowed in August to free imprisoned members of his 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.

The AQAP detainees escaped through a 44-metre (145-foot) tunnel they dug between their cell and a nearby mosque.

AQAP 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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