Yemeni security officials say al-Qaeda militants have taken full control of a town south of the capital Sanaa.
They say the militants have thrown a security ring around the town of Radda in Bayda province, some 100 miles (160 kilometres) south of Sanaa, preventing residents from leaving or coming in.
The officials say the fighters moved Monday from several outlaying points they captured over the weekend to storm the local prison, freeing 150-200 prisoners, including militants belonging to the terror group.
Two soldiers were killed and a third was wounded when the militants attacked army positions in the town.
The officials were speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.