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Seven people were killed and several inmates escaped in an brazen attack on the central prison in Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa, a Yemeni official said.

Three other people were wounded in the assault, Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman at the Yemeni embassy in Washington. said in a Twitter post.

The identity and affiliation of the prisoners who escaped remains unknown, Albasha said.

Yemen's state news agency SABA reported that terrorists deployed a car bomb as well as gunfire in the prison break.

The seven killed were all security troopers engaged in a firefight with the terrorists, SABA reported, citing an official Interior Ministry source.

The attackers fired at least one rocket at a police patrol vehicle outside the main prison gates, a police officer at the scene told Reuters.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

A branch of al-Qaeda is one of the more active terrorist groups in the region and is blamed for several deadly attacks on state and military centers in the past two years.

A number of small prison breaks in Iraq have freed hundreds of militants who are now fighting with radical Sunni factions in neighboring Syria, The New York Times reported this week.

— Charlene Gubash and Jeff Black