At least six militants and two soldiers have been killed in
Yemen in fighting near a damaged oil pipeline east of the
Separately, gunmen and bombers targeted three senior military
officers and the transport minister in a series of attacks in
the capital Sanaa.
In one incident, two gunmen riding a motorbike shot dead
Brigadier Fadel Mohammed Ali, an adviser to the minister of
defence, outside the ministry's offices in Sanaa, a police
source said. Further details were not immediately available.
Gunmen fired at the home of Transport Minister Waed Batheeb,
wounding two of his guards, a transport ministry official
said. A colonel was seriously wounded in an attack by gunmen
and another officer survived a thwarted bomb attack on his
The fighting in turbulent Maarib province broke out when
government troops backed by air strikes tried to secure the
pipeline and repair damage inflicted last month by local
militants, the official said.
He added that the army controlled the area surrounding the
pipeline after Tuesday's clashes.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged
by Islamist fighters or tribesmen since an uprising erupted
last year, causing fuel shortages and slashing export
earnings for the impoverished country.
Yemen's stability is a leading security goal for the United
States and Gulf Arab allies because of its strategic position
next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and shipping lanes, and
because it is home to one of the most active wings of al
Under an agreement reached earlier this month between tribal
chiefs and the government, tribes in Maarib were meant to
stop militants from attacking the pipeline in return for a
halt to air strikes in the area.
A local official said troops were deployed on Tuesday 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 earlier in December. They were killed
while inspecting the pipeline.
The affiliation of the militants in Maarib is unclear. Local
sources said some had links to al Qaeda, while others were
involved in kidnapping foreigners to pressure the government
to release jailed kinsmen.
Officer wounded in capital
Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has mounted
operations in Saudi Arabia and attempted attacks against the
United States, which has stepped up strikes by drones.
In the capital, the ministry of defence said one man was
arrested on Tuesday for planting a bomb in the car of an
officer at the Central Security Forces. The attempt to blow
up the car was foiled, the ministry said. Colonel Sameer
al-Gharbani, an officer in the Republican Guard, was
critically wounded in an attack by unidentified gunmen, a
source at the Guard said.
The string of attacks happened less than a week after
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi overhauled the armed forces
as part of a Gulf-brokered power-transfer plan that helped
ease former President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in