Al Qaeda takes full control of city in south Yemen | world | Hindustan Times
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Al Qaeda takes full control of city in south Yemen

Al Qaeda militants seized full control of a town south of the Yemeni capital on Monday, overrunning army positions, storming the local prison and freeing its inmates, security officials said.

world Updated: Jan 17, 2012 01:39 IST

Al Qaeda militants seized full control of a town south of the Yemeni capital on Monday, overrunning army positions, storming the local prison and freeing its inmates, security officials said.

The capture of Radda in Bayda province, some 100 miles south of Sanaa, underscores the growing strength of al Qaeda in Yemen as it continues to take advantage of the weakness of a central government struggling to contain nearly a year of massive political unrest.

The officials said the militants threw a security ring around Radda, preventing residents from leaving or entering, and killed two soldiers and wounded a third in clashes with army troops.

The fighters pushed into the town from several points they had captured over the weekend, including an ancient castle that overlooks the town, a school and a mosque.

They freed 150-200 inmates, including an unspecified number of militants belonging to al Qaeda. The officials said some of the freed inmates joined the militants after they were given arms.

An Associated Press photographer who visited Radda on Sunday said the militants were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, automatic rifles and other weapons.