x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Troops kill 5 militants in clashes near oil pipeline

At least five militants have been killed and three soldiers wounded during fighting near a damaged oil pipeline in Yemen.

SANAA // At least five militants were killed and three soldiers wounded yesterday during fighting near a damaged oil pipeline in Yemen.

In a separate incident, two gunmen on a motorbike shot dead Brigadier Fadel Mohammed Ali, an adviser to the defence minister, outside the ministry's offices in the capital, Sanaa.

The fighting in the turbulent Maarib province broke out when government troops, backed by air strikes, tried to secure the pipeline and repair damage inflicted last month by militants.

Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by Islamist fighters and tribesmen since an uprising began last year, causing fuel shortages and slashing the country's export earnings.

The country's stability is a leading security goal for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the US, because it is home to one of the most active wings of Al Qaeda.

Under an agreement reached this month between tribal chiefs and the government, tribes in Maarib were supposed to stop militants from attacking the pipeline in return for a halt to air strikes.

A Maarib official said troops were deployed yesterday after tribesmen failed to secure the pipeline or to hand over fighters involved in the killings of 17 army officers and soldiers in an ambush this week. They were killed while inspecting the pipeline.

The affiliation of the militants in Maarib is unclear. Sources said some had links to Al Qaeda, while others were involved in kidnapping foreigners to pressure the government to release jailed kinsmen.