SANA'A // Al Qa'eda members launched an attack on a security post in Yemen's eastern province of Marib yesterday, leading to the deaths of three militants and two policemen, officials said.
The clashes took place near an oilfield at Safer, where tribal fighters had sabotaged an oil pipeline on Tuesday, according to security officials and tribal sources.
"A group of al Qa'eda members in two vehicles attacked a security post in Marib, where they clashed with security forces, causing the death of two police and three al Qa'eda elements and wounding others," the official said.
A similar statement was issued on the defence ministry's 26sep.net news website, saying "a number of al Qa'eda terrorists attacked the security post while the policemen were having their lunch".
"The police also captured one of the cars in which they found machine guns," and those in the other car fled carrying several wounded militants, it quoted a ministry official as saying.
Yemen's tribes have targeted oil pipelines in the past to protest against policies by the regime, which like other countries in the region is facing growing street protests.
Yemen's security services have arrested two al Qa'eda members, including a local chief of the extremist network, in Taiz, south of the capital, a security official said.
"Yemen's security services arrested Khaled Saeed Baterfi and Amer al Lahji at a security checkpoint in Taiz," the official said, identifying Mr Baterfi as a leader of al Qa'eda in its stronghold southern province of Abyan and Mr Lahji as a militant.
Mr Baterfi had replaced Jamil Nasser Abdullah al Ambari, who figured on a list of the government's most wanted militants before he was killed in an air raid in March last year.
Yemeni security forces used live fire and tear gas on protesters in Taez who were demanding an end to the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. At least 80 people were wounded, activists told Reuters.