Spartan Echo

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al-Qaida militants traveling in convoys flying black banners captured a major port city in southern Yemen on Thursday, seizing government buildings and freeing inmates from a prison, including a top Saudi-born leader, security officials said.

The fall of Mukalla — the capital of Yemen’s largest province, Hadramawt — highlighted how al-Qaida is expanding its foothold in Yemen, taking advantage of the turmoil as a Saudi-led coalition backing the country’s beleaguered president tries to fend off a takeover by Shiite rebels.

Mukalla’s fall came as the rebels, known as Houthis, made dramatic advances in one of the main strongholds of the president’s loyalists, the southern city of Aden. The rebels broke into the center of Aden and briefly captured a presidential palace in the city.

The rebels withdrew from the palace after raising the Yemeni flag, but the move showed their continued strength despite more than a…

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