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Yemen gas pipeline blown up

Early morning attack halts all operations at Balhaf terminal.

ADEN // Unidentified attackers yesterday blew up a pipeline pumping liquefied gas to Yemen's southern Balhaf export terminal, causing a complete halt in operations.

"Unknown gunmen blew up the gas pipeline... at Station 5, in the village of Zahira, in the Shabwa province," said Brig Gen Ahmed Omeir, the provincial security chief. The attack took place at about 1am, he added.

Yemen began exporting liquefied natural gas from Balhaf in 2009. France's Total has an almost 40 per cent interest in the plant.

The 320-kilometre pipeline linking Marib province to Balhaf, in Yemen's mostly lawless south, has been repeatedly sabotaged by Al Qaeda militants.

On May 13, suspected Al Qaeda militants blew up the pipeline near Mayfaa, also in Shabwa. It had also been sabotaged on April 26, shortly after it was repaired following a similar March attack. In May, a French security official working for Total was wounded and a Yemeni soldier killed when gunmen attacked their car in Sayun, in the eastern province of Hadramawt.

Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen has exploited the decline in central government control accompanying the Arab Spring-inspired protests that eventually forced the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to cede power in February.

Militants linked to Al Qaeda had captured Zinjibar, Jaar, Shuqra and other towns across Abyan, but government forces in May launched an all-out offensive and recaptured the towns the following month.

Also yesterday, a car used in an attack on the Yemeni intelligence headquarters in Aden on Monday night was found.

The assailants had fired machineguns from a nearby hill overlooking the building and the state television headquarters next to it. Guards responded but no one was hurt.

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