March 15, 2011 / 6:34 AM / 8 years ago

Yemen tribesmen prevent repairs on blazing pipeline

SANAA, March 15 (Reuters) - Tribesmen prevented technicians on Tuesday from repairing an oil pipeline in Yemen’s central Maarib province that was damaged by explosives a day earlier, officials told Reuters.

The pipeline, which has been repeatedly blown up in recent months, was still ablaze, the officials said.

Tribal sources said kinsmen of a Yemeni mediator, who was killed last year in an errant airstrike targeting al Qaeda, were behind the attack.

Jaber al-Shabwani, who had been trying to persuade members of al Qaeda to surrender, died when his car blew up in a strike blamed on a U.S. drone.

Several oil and gas fields operated by international companies are located in the mountainous province. Tribesmen have previously attacked pipelines that ferry crude from Maarib, east of the capital Sanaa, to the Red Sea coast.

Yemen, which borders the world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, has been hit by weeks of increasingly violent unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule.

The pipeline attack did not appear to be directly related to the anti-government demonstrations. (Reporting by Mohammed Sudam; editing by Crispian Balmer)

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