More than 1,000 prisoners escape in Yemen

Published July 1st, 2015 - 04:17 GMT

Up to 1,200 prisoners, including al-Qaeda suspects, escaped from a prison in the central Yemeni town of Taiz on Tuesday, according to officials.

The circumstances surrounding the mass escape are unclear, with some sources suggesting they were freed after al-Qaeda supporters attacked the facility and other saying the escape occurred after guards retreated amid fighting between Houthi rebels and their opponents. 

According to the BBC, this makes the third such prison break since late March, when a Saudi-led coalition began conducting airstrikes against the Houthis in order to restore deposed President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

One such strike killed 44 people and wounded more than 100 on June 7, one day after the Shiite Muslim-affiliated Houthis say they shot three Scud missiles at an air base in Saudi Arabia.

The prison break comes less than two weeks after al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen reportedly killed two suspected U.S. spies and hung their corpses from a bridge alongside a banner that translated to "The House of Saud directs American planes to bomb the holy warriors."

Two days prior, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula confirmed the death of one of its high-ranking commanders in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

The admission came one day after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a ceasefire in Yemen through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which goes from June 18 to July 16.

Earlier this month the United Nations estimated total casualties in the Yemen conflict have surpassed 2,600, with more than 1,400 being civilians.

By Fred Lambert

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