There have been several major prison breaks in Yemen amid Saudi airstrikes and expanding Islamist attacks. Today saw by far the largest such escape, however, when 1,200 prisoners were broken out of the central prison in Taiz by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) forces.
The Shi’ite Houthis took the city of Taiz back in March, and have held it since, though there have been intermittent Saudi airstrikes and attacks from regional tribes. Today saw heavy clashes as the AQAP forces moved in and went after the prison.
The prison was believed to have held a number of AQAP suspects, though of course not all 1,200 were suspects, and the ensuing clashes basically emptied out the prison.
Officials sought to blame the Yemeni military forces loyal to former President Saleh for the prison break in Taiz, saying that amid heavy fighting and as the AQAP forces approached, they “opened the prison doors” and withdrew from the area.