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article imageTroops clash with tribesmen blocking Yemen pipeline repairs

By Ken Hanly     Jan 4, 2014 in World
Sanaa - When the government ignores tribal demands, Yemeni tribes often sabotage pipelines as a means of pressuring the government to provide jobs, settle land disputes, or release members from prison.
Yemeni troops clashed with armed tribesmen blocking repairs to the country's main oil pipeline on Friday and one army officer and a tribal fighter were killed, a local official said.
On December 25, tribesmen bombed the main pipeline in central Maarib province, halting the flow of oil to the Ras Isa terminal on the Red Sea. The attack was the seventh attack in December and happened just hours after damage from a previous attack had been repaired. The tribesmen are now attempting to halt repairs.An official said:
"Armed tribesmen prevented repair teams from fixing the oil pipeline and army forces clashed with them. An army colonel and a tribesman were killed in the fighting which is still ongoing," The official also told Reuters that 10 soldiers, including the chief of military police and four tribesmen, were wounded. Yemen relies on exports of crude oil to finance 70 percent of its budget. Attacks on the Maarib pipeline began back in 2011. When working well the 270 mile long line carries about 110,000 barrels of crude per day to the terminal at Ras Isa.
Another report claims a Yemeni security official said that a military unit exchanged gunfire with tribesmen as they were headed to provide protection for a crew that was repairing the damaged pipeline. He also claimed that the tribesmen were supporters of ex-president Ali Saleh who left power in a deal brokered by a group of Arab states in 2012. The Yemeni military has been mounting a campaign to attempt to stop the pipeline sabotage. According to the government the attacks costs the government nearly $15 million a day.
Last month tribesmen also blew up an important pipeline in the eastern province of Hadramawt Province. A local official said: "Gunmen belonging to an alliance of Hadramawt tribes blew up the oil pipeline linking Masila oilfield to Al-Daba port in the town of Shahr,"
The pipeline, operated by several foreign companies, ordinarily carries about 120,000 barrels per day. As well as attacks by disgruntled tribesmen, the government officials and the military are often targeted by Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) . The government also sometimes clashes with Houthi separatists in the north as well as a large separatist movement in the south that wants an independent South Yemen.
More about Yemen, sabotage of pipelines in Yemen, tribal government conflict in Yemen
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