Al-Qaeda scores more victories in Yemen: Militants take over town of Rada
ADEN (Yemen) - Al-Qaeda militants swept during the night into the Yemeni town of Rada, 130 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of Sanaa, and overran it in just a few hours, local and tribal officials said on Monday.
"Al-Qaeda has taken over the town and is now the de facto power there," a local official said on condition of anonymity.
"The government security forces have retreated to their bases and militants are now manning the checkpoints in and outside of the town," he added.
The official, a senior member of the local government, said the militants had also seized the town's central prison and police headquarters.
According to a tribal leader in the town, more than 100 prisoners were released after the facility was seized, "including members of Al-Qaeda."
Local officials said two soldiers securing the prison were killed during the raid.
The takeover began late Sunday and was completed by dawn on Monday without any real resistance from the local security forces stationed in the area, according to tribal officials.
"There were barely any clashes at all," one local tribal leader said.
The takeover of Rada is the latest in a series of Al-Qaeda victories in Yemen's southern provinces.
The extremist group and its local affiliates have taken advantage of a weakened central government in Sanaa, reeling from months of mass protests and political unrest.
The southern Abyan province has been hit the hardest, with Al-Qaeda militants taking control of the provincial capital Zinjibar in May and going on to capture several other towns in the following months.
Hundreds of militants and soldiers have been killed in battles by government forces to retake the captured territories.