Tribal fighters in eastern Yemen have blown up an oil pipeline in retaliation for an army raid on the home of one of their leaders accused of harbouring al-Qaeda operatives, sources have said.
The sabotage targeted a section of the pipeline that runs about six kilometres east of Maarib, capital of the province of the same name, the sources said on Saturday.
Witnesses said the attackers first used a bulldozer to expose the pipeline before blowing it up, sparking a blaze which sent a column of black smoke over the site known as “Kilometre 40″.
It was not immediately clear what impact the attack would have on Yemen’s oil production.
The sources said the attack was in retaliation for an army raid on the home of a tribal chief, Sheikh Nasser Gammad bin Dawham, who stood accused of sheltering al-Qaeda members. They gave no details on the raid.
On June 5, a Yemeni colonel and two soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected al-Qaeda members near the city of Maarib as they travelled in convoy to inspect military forces stationed in the Safar oilfield.
Yemeni forces have been battling al-Qaeda operatives in Maarib for four days. The government say it aims to catch suspected al-Qaeda fighters believed to be behind the ambush.
Tribesmen from Maarib, where al-Qaeda has a strong presence, last month set ablaze two oil pipelines near the Safer fields but the authorities have since repaired the damage.
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The group has suffered setbacks amid US pressure on Sanaa to crack down.
spotted by RS