Last updated: 2 June, 2013

Yemen foils Al-Qaeda bid to blow up gas pipeline

Yemen’s army foiled an attempt by an Al-Qaeda-linked suicide bomber on Sunday to blow up a strategic pipeline that takes gas from central fields to southern maritime terminals, an official said.

Soldiers opened fire on a vehicle that was speeding towards a gas pumping station, 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Belhaf export terminal on the Gulf of Aden, killing the driver, said the army official.

“The bomb-laden vehicle was driven by an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber,” he said.

Gunmen also traded fire with soldiers near another pumping station, 10 kilometres (six miles) to the north of the other station, the official added without giving any casualty figures.

“Al-Qaeda militants wanted to carry out these attacks simultaneously to sabotage the pipeline and stop pumping the gas,” said the official, a member of the brigade responsible for protecting such vital installations in the region.

Energy operator Yemen LNG confirmed in a statement that “two attacks took place today targeting the 38-inch gas pipeline”.

“There were no Yemen LNG casualties and the attackers were successfully repelled by the Yemen military forces at both locations,” it said, adding the pipeline remained in operation and LNG production uninterrupted.

But it added that “emergency procedures have been activated to monitor and control the situation and security along the pipeline has been reinforced with additional Yemeni government forces”.

Repeated attacks on gas pipelines feeding Belhaf terminal have forced the suspension of exports for weeks.

Saboteurs have regularly targeted gas and oil pipelines in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation, which relies on its modest energy exports as a main source of revenue.

The attacks, blamed on tribesmen seeking to barter with the authorities or Al-Qaeda, have become more frequent in the wake of a 2011 uprising that forced out veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Petroleum and Minerals Minister Hisham Abdullah said in early July that Yemen had lost more than $4 billion in revenues since February 2011 due to the attacks.