Militants from al Qaeda raged into a prison facility in southeastern Yemen on Thursday and freed several hundred inmates from there, reports said, citing officials. One of the inmates freed following the break-in was a leader of the group, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Officials identified the senior al Qaeda leader as Khalid Batarfi.
Batarfi had served more than four years' jail time and is believed to have escaped from Al Mukalla prison in Hadramawt province, along with over 300 others. While the identity of most of the prisoners was not clear, initial reports, said, according to the Telegraph, that the escaped prisoners included well-known jihadists. The Yemen branch of al Qaeda is considered to be the most dangerous.
The attack on the prison facility comes as Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition against the Shiite Houthis in the country, reported the first major success in the campaign.
The Houthi forces, who have taken control of capital Sanaa and the government, had pulled back from their positions in central Aden on Thursday after the Saudi-led coalition conducted airstrikes against them at dawn, the Telegraph reported. The rebels -- some of whom are still in different parts of the neighborhood -- had moved in to Aden's Khor Maksar district using tanks and armored vehicles a day before.
Yemen is currently witnessing an increased amount of violence as the Saudi-led coalition has been trying to weaken the hold of Shiite Houthis, reportedly backed by Iran. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s president, fled the country and took refuge in Riyadh after rebels started gaining control. Hadi's aides have said, according to AFP, that he has no plans of returning to Aden anytime soon.