* Security source says 11 dead after prison attack
* Inmates escape in chaos
* Yemen grappling with growing al Qaeda threat
(Updates death toll)
By Khaled Abdullah
SANAA, Feb 13 Eleven people were killed when
attackers mounted a bomb, grenade and gun assault on the main
prison in Yemen's capital on Thursday to try to free inmates,
security sources and witnesses said.
Explosions and gunfire could be heard several kilometres
away from the prison in northern Sanaa, which has al Qaeda
members among its inmates. The biggest explosion rattled windows
in the area.
"A terrorist group attacked the central prison," an Interior
Ministry official said, according to comments published by the
state news agency, adding there had been a car bomb followed by
a gun attack on the facility.
"Guards managed to confront the terrorists and forced them
to flee," the report said.
Eleven people were killed, a security source said. The
Interior Ministry official said seven guards were killed and two
wounded, while several inmates escaped in the chaos.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yemen is
grappling with a growing threat from one of al Qaeda's most
active wings, which has killed hundreds of people in assaults on
state and military facilities in the past two years.
Some Yemeni news websites said al Qaeda was behind the
Police sealed off the road to the airport, which runs
through the neighbourhood where the prison is located, and thick
smoke was seen rising above the area.
Earlier on Thursday, a British teacher was reported missing
in Sanaa in what a Yemeni security source suggested could have
been a kidnapping. The abduction of foreigners in Yemen is
The U.S. ally, with a population of 25 million, is trying to
end nearly three years of political unrest, which began when
mass protests erupted in 2011 against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the
president of 33 years, who stepped down.
Interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has been facing
other challenges in trying to restore stability to Yemen, which
shares a long and porous border with top world oil exporter
Apart from security, Yemen is trying to deal with demands by
southern separatists for independence and to quell rebels from
the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi movement, which has been on an
offensive to extend its control over the north.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden, Writing by
Sylvia Westall; Editing by Gareth Jones)