News / Middle East

Al-Qaida Militants Escape Southern Yemen Prison

Security officials in Yemen say about 60 al-Qaida-linked militants have escaped from a southern prison after gunmen attacked the facility.

Officials say the attackers and escaping prisoners clashed with guards Wednesday at the prison in Mukalla, leaving one guard dead and two others wounded.  

The escape came as a senior U.S. envoy met in Sana'a with Yemeni officials to push a Gulf Arab initiative to end a political stalemate paralyzing Yemen's government.

The plan calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recovering in Saudi Arabia from an attack on his palace compound, to leave office. Mr. Saleh has waffled on the plan.

Yemeni media say envoy Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, met Wednesday with several high-ranking government figures and opposition members in the Yemeni capital.

Washington is growing concerned about increased activity by Islamic militants in Yemen as the country struggles with a broader opposition uprising against President Saleh.  Insurgents have launched several attacks in southern Yemen during the country's political unrest.

On Sunday, military officials said clashes killed 12 al-Qaida-linked militants and at least two Yemeni soldiers outside the city of Zinjibar.

Armed militants also renewed attacks earlier this month against government buildings near the town of Houta.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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