Yemen's warring parties accuse each other of attacking pipeline

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen’s warring factions have accused each other of attacking an oil pipeline pumping station in the central province of Marib, where clashes have raged for weeks and displaced tens of thousands of civilians.

The oil ministry of the internationally recognized, Saudi-backed government in Yemen said on Sunday that the Iran-aligned Houthi group had targeted the Kofel pumping station, according to the Saudi state news agency.

However Hussein al-Ezzi, an official in the Houthi-controlled government based in the capital Sanaa since 2014, said Saudi-led coalition forces had attacked the station in what he described as a dangerous escalation.

Both sides gave no details of the reported attack, which both sides said took place on Saturday.

The pipeline is operated by the Yemeni government-owned Safer oil company but no oil has been pumped through it for years.

Yemen’s oil output has collapsed since 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the war to try to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power after it was ousted by Houthi forces in Sanaa.

The United Nations and Western powers hope the threat posed by the global coronavirus pandemic will push Yemen’s combatants into fresh talks to end a largely stalemated war that has left millions vulnerable to disease and starvation.

Meanwhile, in the central city of Taiz at least five women were killed and 28 people injured when shelling hit the woman’s section of Taiz’s main prison on Sunday, local officials and medical sources told Reuters.

The shelling came from the part of the divided city controlled by the Houthis, they said.

Taiz, Yemen’s third-biggest city, is a front line in the conflict. A U.N.-mediated deal reached in Stockholm in December 2018 aimed to set up a committee to establish humanitarian corridors to the city, but little progress has been made so far.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Muhammad Ghobari; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Pravin Char