Sanaa, July 1 (IANS) Over 1,000 prisoners, including Al Qaeda suspects, escaped during a jail break in Yemen as ground battles between Shia Houthis and pro-government fighters intensified.
The battles erupted on Tuesday after pro-government fighters advanced to areas controlled by Houthi militia around the central prison in Taiz province, which hosts up to 1,200 prisoners, including dozens of Al Qaeda inmates, Xinhua news agency reported.
The fighting forced the Houthis to retreat from the area, officials said.
Witnesses said they saw the prisoners escaping in groups from the jail gates during the clashes and before Houthi militia withdrew from the area. They said heavy weapons were used as pro-government fighters managed to control the site as well as the prison.
Houthi-controlled state-run Saba news agency blamed the jail break on the pro-government fighters, accusing them of breaking into the jail and facilitating the prisoners’ escape, but the accusation was denied.
The prison break occurred just hours after pro-government fighters took control of Hadaik Alsaleh in southern Taiz, the third largest city in Yemen, according to the residents.