Yemeni troops on Monday opened fire on dozens of jobless protesters who demonstrated near an oilfield operated by French Total in the southeastern Hadramawt province, wounding 10 people, a local official said.
“Ten demonstrators were injured, two of them seriously,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
Witnesses said troops guarding the facility fired tear gas and live ammunition at the demonstrators who gathered on a road leading to the oilfield carrying banners calling on energy company Total to hire them.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has high unemployment rates and is suffering from an escalating humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by protests last year that forced veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after more than three decades of rule.
Attacks on oil and gas pipelines by Al-Qaeda militants or tribesmen seeking to pressure the government into meeting their demands are common.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen has exploited the decline in central government control that accompanied the uprising.
Total has been operating in Yemen since 1987 and has an almost 40 percent stake in the Balhaf liquid natural gas plant, an investment worth 4.5 billion dollars, the country’s biggest.
Yemen produces only about 300,000 barrels of oil a day, most of which is destined for export.