Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken control of a major airport in southern Yemen after briefly clashing with troops, military officials and residents said. An oil terminal has also been captured, the Associated Press reported.
Officials said AQAP 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-Qaeda overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a Al-Qaeda commander, from its prison.
Nasser Baqazouz, an activist in the city, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance.
Al-Qaeda's powerful local branch has exploited the chaos in Yemen, where Houthi rebels and military units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh captured the capital in September and have been advancing despite a three-week Saudi-led air campaign.
The airport takeover comes just days after the group's spiritual leader Ibrahim al-Rubaish was killed in a U.S. drone strike.
Al Jazeera and wire services