Tribesmen blow up oil pipeline in Yemen

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The Independent Online

Tribesmen allied with al-Qa'ida blew up a crude pipeline linking Yemen's eastern Maarib province to its Red Sea coast, as Yemeni forces seek out militants hiding in the area, Al Arabiya TV said today.



Citing security sources, the channel said the incident took place this morning. Oil industry sources in Yemen said the pipeline was badly damaged and pumping had stopped.



The pipeline is the only channel transferring crude from Maarib to the Red Sea Terminal for export.



The channel said Yemeni forces were bombing the homes of tribesmen including Nasser Hammad al-Doham suspected of hiding al-Qa'ida members.



It said there was a security cordon around an area that is home to the tribe of Hassan Abdullah Al Aqili, accused of assassinating two military officials this month.



Al-Qa'ida members, many of whom hail from local tribes, have forged links with tribsemen in efforts to establish a support base in Yemen, where government control is weak in many areas outside the capital Sanaa.



Maarib is home to most of Yemen's oil fields as well as gunmen believed to belong to a resurgent wing of al-Qa'ida.



Yesterday, one person was killed and at least eight wounded in the third day of gun battles between Yemeni forces and suspected al-Qa'ida militants, the Defence Ministry had said.



Tribal leaders have given higher casualty tolls for the military operation, which was launched on Wednesday in the eastern Maarib province of Wadi Abeida.



The government says it is hunting aAl-Qa'ida gunmen suspected to be behind the ambush of a military convoy today in which a commander and a soldier were killed.

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