AQAP Khalid Batarfi Yemen Presidential cropped
AQAP operative Khalid Batarfi took selfies in the Yemen presidential palaceSource: Twitter

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has seized control of a major airport in south Yemen, military officials and residents have told AP.

Officials in the city of Mukalla, a port city that is capital of Yemen's largest province, Hadramawt, said that AQAP captured Riyan Airport after a battle with government troops.

They also seized control of the city's oil terminal after skirmishes with government troops.

It is the latest successful attack by al-Qaeda in Yemen since the group overran Mukalla, and staged a prison break during which 300 inmates were freed.

A local activist, Nasser Baqazouz, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance.

AQAP has been one of the major winners so far in Yemen's war, with the group exploiting the chaos caused by Saudi Arabian air strikes against Houthi rebels to expand their influence in the country.

The Shia Houthi rebels and military units loyal to a former president captured Sana'a in September and have been advancing despite the three-week Saudi-led air campaign.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to re-install President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who fled the country for Riyadh last month in the face of the Houthi advance.

The war has sparked a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which imports 90% of its food, with reports that residents of Aden were queuing outside bakeries.

"We have to stand in line for bread, as you can see, and lines for petrol and diesel. Power is out, people have no water... they have nothing. We urge the government to find us a solution," said Aden resident Mohamed Amin.