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More than 60 Al Qaeda militants escape from Yemen jail

Prisoners, some of them facing death sentences for terrorist offences, fled through a 45-metre tunnel they had dug at the jail in the city of Mukalla, killing a guard and taking his gun.

SANA'A // More than 60 Al Qaeda militants escaped from jail in Mukalla city yesterday, fleeing through a 45-metre tunnel they had dug, a security official said.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said 12 of the 62 escaped prisoners are members of the Tarim cell. Tarim cell is considered the most dangerous offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula and is accused of carrying out at least 13 attacks since 2007, including an assault on the central security forces' compound in 2008 that left dozens of people dead. Its members have also been accused of attacking tourists and the US Embassy.

The official said 57 of the escaped militants have been convicted on charges of terrorism and some of them were sentenced to death. During the escape, the militants killed a guard and took his gun. Another guard was wounded.

The official said the incident was very similar to a prison escape in February 2006 when 23 Al Qaeda militants broke out of a prison run by Political Security, an internal security force, in Sana'a.

Earlier reports of that bands of gunmen attacked the prison during the escape to create a diversion were untrue, the official said.

Yemen's interior ministry said in a statement that three of the escaped Al Qaeda militants were killed and two others were captured.


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