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Al-Qaida Force Frees Inmates In Yemen, Seeking To Control Port City

As violence continues elsewhere in Yemen, al-Qaida has laid siege to a coastal city in the country's southeast, asserting control over key facilities in the port city of al-Mukallah. The move comes as Houthis clash with a Saudi-led campaign that centers on another key city, Aden.

From Cairo, NPR's Leila Fadel reports:

"The extremist group broke out 300 people from the central prison in al-Mukallah, looted the building and killed two prison guards. They also looted the bank and government buildings and have set up checkpoints throughout the city, residents and a security official say.

"Al-Qaida has a large presence inside Yemen and analysts worry that as the Houthis fight for territory and the Saudi-led air campaign strikes Houthi and military targets inside Yemen, no one is battling al-Qaida's presence or power.

"Analysts say with Yemen in complete chaos, extremists groups like al-Qaida and the self-declared Islamic State will thrive."

Al-Mukallah is some 300 miles from Aden, where reports are emerging Thursday that "foreign troops" have landed. That's according to the BBC, which adds that a "Saudi-led coalition has staged seven nights of airstrikes in an attempt to end the rebel offensive."

Those "foreign troops" have not been identified. News of their arrival followed on the heels of a report from Reuters that said: "Houthi fighters and their allies seized a central Aden district on Thursday, residents said, striking a heavy blow to the Saudi-led coalition which has waged a week of air strikes to try to stem advances by the Iran-allied Shi'ite group."

As the Two-Way reported last week, Yemen's President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fled before the rebel advance, leaving Aden for Saudi Arabia.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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