Al-Qaida captures major airport in southern Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Military officials and residents say al-Qaida has taken control of a major airport in southern Yemen after briefly clashing with troops.

The officials say al-Qaida fighters clashed Thursday with members of the infantry brigade in charge of protecting the Riyan airport in the city of Mukalla, a major port city and the provincial capital of Yemen’s largest province, Hadramawt.

Al-Qaida overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison.

Nasser Baqazouz, an activist in the city, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance.

Al-Qaida’s powerful local branch has exploited the chaos in Yemen, where Shiite rebels and military units loyal to a former president captured the capital in September and have been advancing despite a three-week Saudi-led air campaign.

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