May 31, 2008 / 6:06 PM / 9 years ago

Qaeda claims failed attack on oil refinery in Yemen

DUBAI (Reuters) - An al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility on Saturday for a mortar attack on a refinery in Yemen, which officials said did not cause any damage, according to an Internet statement.

Three blasts were heard on Friday at the refinery in the southern port city of Aden, officials said.

"Al Qaeda Organisation in the Arabian Peninsula -- Yemen Soldiers Brigades -- carried out the blessed operation with three mortar shells ... on the refinery used by Yemen's despot to supply fuel to the Crusaders (Western states) in their war against Islam," the group said on an Islamist website.

The group, which has vowed to win the freedom of jailed comrades, has claimed responsibility for several such attacks in recent months, including a shelling in March near the U.S. embassy which injured 13 schoolgirls and five Yemeni soldiers.

The refinery attack coincided with a shooting spree by a lone gunman who killed at least seven people at a mosque in northern Yemen. Officials said that was the result of a feud over land in the impoverished Arab state where many ordinary citizens are armed.

Besides militant attacks, Yemen has faced unrest over unemployment and rising prices in the south and fighting between government forces and Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north.

Yemen, Osama bin Laden's ancestral home, joined the U.S. "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001, attacks. It has jailed dozens of militants in connections with bombings of Western targets and clashes with the authorities.

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