15 al-Qaida jailers escaped from S. Yemeni

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About 15 al-Qaida prisoners escaped from a Yemeni jail in the southern port city of Aden on Monday, a security official told Xinhua.

The local security official said on condition of anonymity that about 15 al-Qaida prisoners, including five prisoners who had been sentenced to death, fled the central jail in the al-Mansoura district in Aden after digging a small underground tunnel.

Some other inmates fought their way out of the jail along with the al-Qaida prisoners, according to the official.

The escaping al-Qaida prisoners were convicted on terrorism charges, the official said, adding that the police have launched enquiries.

An opposition official, who claimed that the prison break was " orchestrated," accused local security forces and prison police of "supporting the al-Qaida prisoners' escape."

Earlier this year, more than 62 al-Qaida prisoners broke jail in al-Mukalla, the provincial capital of the southeastern province of Hadramout.

Militants of the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are taking advantage of the 10 months of sweeping protests against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule to bolster their presence in the country's southern regions, including cities across the Abyan and Shabwa provinces they seized late in May.

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