SANAA May 7 Assailants blew up Yemen's main oil
export pipeline, halting crude flows, local officials said on
Wednesday, while other gunmen attacked electricity lines,
causing a power outage in most of the country's northern cities.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Yemeni
tribesmen often attack oil pipelines and power lines. Al
Qaeda-linked militants have also carried out such attacks.
The attacks late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday coincided
with an offensive by Yemeni government forces in mountainous
areas of southern Yemen that led to the capture of the
militants' main stronghold in that region.
The oil pipeline was bombed twice in less than 12 hours late
on Tuesday in an area between the central Maarib province and
the capital Sanaa, the local officials said, an area that has
suffered numerous attacks since 2011.
The pipeline carries crude from the Maarib fields in central
Yemen to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea. Before the
spate of attacks began three years ago, the 270-mile (435-km)
pipeline carried around 110,000 barrels per day to Ras Isa.
Separately, gunmen forced the closure of the Maarib
gas-fired power plant after twice attacking its power
transmission lines late on Tuesday and in the early hours of
Wednesday, the state news agency Saba reported.
It was the third attack in less than 48 hours by gunmen who
targeted other lines that transmit power between Maarib and
Sanaa, Saba said.
Major powers have pressed Yemen to curb the Islamist
insurgents and to restore order in the south to prevent threats
to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia next door. They also want to
reduce any risk of Yemen being used as a springboard for attacks
on Western targets.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Reem Shamseddine,
editing by Sami Aboudi and Gareth Jones)