x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Pipeline explosion sparks heavy fighting between militants and Yemeni forces

Government forces pounded Al Qaeda fighters, killing at least 16 after militants blew up a gas pipeline supplying the Balhaf export terminal in the Gulf of Aden.

SANAA // Yemeni government forces pounded Al Qaeda fighters yesterday, killing at least 16 after militants blew up a gas pipeline supplying the Balhaf export terminal in the Gulf of Aden.

In one attack, Yemeni warplanes struck an Al Qaeda hideout about 70 kilometres from the southern city of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, which the militants captured last year. The bombardment killed at least 10 militants, the officials said.

In Zinjibar, clashes between the two sides left six troops dead yesterday. The military, backed by heavy artillery, recently pushed into Zinjibar and regained control over some parts of the city.

Yesterday's fighting came a day after government bombings of Al Qaeda positions across the south killed at least 30 militants.

Late on Sunday, militants blew up the pipeline supplying, the second such attack in a month, a government official said yesterday.

"A gas pipeline was blown up near Mayfaa" in Shabwa province in south-east Yemen, the official said.

"Al Qaeda blew up the pipeline in response to the raids that targeted it" over the past week, the official said.

Witnesses said flames were seen flaring into the sky from the site of the explosion that took place around midnight, some 30 minutes after soldiers guarding the pipeline clashed with a group of gunmen.

* Associated Press with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse