Yemen tribesmen blow up oil pipeline after checkpoint killing

AFP , Monday 6 Jan 2014

Tribesmen in Yemen's restive Hadramawt province blew up a major oil pipeline in retaliation for the killing by the army of one of their men, security and industry officials said Monday.

Hadramawt has been shaken since December 20 by protests against the central government after the army killed local tribal chief Said Ben Habrish and his bodyguards at a checkpoint.

The simmering tension erupted again on Sunday when a tribesman was killed in an incident at an army checkpoint.

"Gunmen overnight blew up the pipeline linking Masila oilfield to Al-Daba port" in the town of Shahr on the Gulf of Aden, a local security official told AFP.

Witnesses reported seeing flames erupting from the site of the attack and an oil industry official said the flow of crude along the pipeline had come to a halt.

Local tribal chief Ahmad Bamaezz said that youths from a tribe in Hadramawt were behind the attack.

"They were angered by the killing of a member of their tribe, an unarmed civilian, at an army checkpoint on Sunday," he told AFP, without elaborating.

The same pipeline had come under attack on December 28. It usually pumps around 120,000 barrels per day.

The latest attack comes amid rising tensions between Yemeni authorities and southern secessionists, allied with a group of tribes from Hadramawt, an Al-Qaeda stronghold.

Attacks on oil and gas pipelines in Yemen are frequent, and Oil Minister Ahmad Dares said this week that sabotage had cost the country $4.75 billion (3.5 billion euros) between March 2011 and March 2013.

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