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Al-Qaida militants blow up gas pipeline in Yemen

Updated: 2012-08-21 16:50
( Xinhua)

ADEN, Yemen - Militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot blew up a natural gas pipeline in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa early Tuesday, causing a huge explosion, local government official and residents told Xinhua.

The al-Qaida assailants attacked with rocket-propelled grenades the main pipeline, which transports supplies of gas to Yemen's Belhaf export terminal in the Gulf of Aden, the local government official said on condition of anonymity.

"Gunmen bombed the gas pipeline with rockets and explosives. It would take maybe several days or weeks to repair the pipeline and resume output operations," the official said.

Tuesday's explosion took place early morning in the desert area of Dhaheera in Shabwa, whose remote and rugged mountains are strongholds of al-Qaida militants, according to the official.

Residents told Xinhua that the blast set off a large fire and flames could be seen from several kilometer away.

The 320-km pipeline linking oil-producing Marib province to Belhaf liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility, in Yemen's restive south, has been repeatedly targeted by al-Qaida operatives.

Oil revenues make up more than 70 percent of the state budget, and oil and gas products account for over 90 percent of Yemen's exports.

Yemen's oil production rapidly declined from more than 400,000 barrels per day at the beginning of the past decade to the current 270,000 barrels per day.

Despite the army reinforcements and high security measures at the country's oil projects, al-Qaida militants have attacked the main LNG pipeline several times in recent months.