Al-Qaeda fighters attacked a prison in the coastal Yemeni city of al-Mukallah early Thursday, freeing nearly 200 prisoners, a number of whom have al-Qaeda links.
In an apparently coordinated offensive that began after midnight, the militants attacked security headquarters, the presidential palace and other official installations. That appeared to be intended as a diversion before the militants attacked the central security prison, their primary target.
Witnesses near the prison said they saw hundreds of inmates file out. Afterward, looters descended on the prison.