SANAA (AFP): Shiite rebels are to withdraw from a key city they seized in an advance towards Yemen’s capital and an army unit will now move into Amran, a spokesman said Saturday.
Amran, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Sanaa, has seen fierce fighting since February as Huthi rebels known as Ansarullah advanced from their mountain strongholds towards the capital. ‘Our men will withdraw from Amran as soon as an army unit moves in,’ rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdessalam said, adding that the decision to pull back came in a deal struck with the defence ministry.
Tribesmen blew up Yemen’s main oil pipeline Saturday, halting deliveries from oilfields in the interior to the Ras Isa export terminal on the Red Sea, provincial and tribal sources said.
The pipeline, which carries some 100,000 barrels of oil per day from fields in the restive eastern province of Marib, has been repeatedly attacked by saboteurs, most recently in May.
The latest attack took place very early Saturday in the Habab district of Marib, which has been prey to violence by armed tribesmen seeking a greater share of oil jobs and revenues, as well as loyalists of Al-Qaeda. The sabotage forced engineers to shut down the 320-kilometre (200-mile) pipeline to the floating Ras Isa terminal, north of the port city of Hodeida, an official said.
Yemen is a minor producer but relies on oil and gas exports for 90 percent of its foreign currency earnings. Attacks on infrastructure cost the impoverished country $4.75 billion over the two years from March 2011 to March 2013, according to government figures.