ADEN, Yemen — Suspected al Qaeda fighters stormed a prison and freed 150 detainees, sources in the local police and administration told Reuters.
Some of those who escaped after the raid in the Arabian Sea port of Mukalla were believed to be linked to al Qaeda. NBC News could not independently verify the report.
The Reuters sources identified one of them as Khaled Batarfi, who was described as a prominent figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a powerful regional wing of the global militant movement.
Soldiers loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi clashed with the suspected al Qaeda fighters in the city early on Thursday, residents said.
Iran-allied Houthi rebels backing former president Ali Abdullah Saleh took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa six months ago and control much of the country.
Houthi fighters and their allies battled gunmen in the heart of the southern port city of Aden on Thursday, several residents said. Aden is the last major foothold of forces loyal to Hadi.
The Shiite Houthi forces are being targeted by airstrikes launched by a military coalition including Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states.