Yemeni tribesmen blow up oil pipeline

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SANAA, Nov 5 (Reuters) Yemeni tribesmen blew up a pipeline that carries crude oil to the Red Sea coast today but exports were unaffected, security and oil officials said.

The bombing did not appear to be linked to Islamist militants, according to preliminary investigations into the attack at dawn in the eastern Marib province, one security official said.

A technical team was assessing the damage to the pipeline, but export operations were not affected, an oil official told Reuters.

About 400 to 700 barrels an hour of oil was leaking from the pipeline, another oil official said.

Officials said no one was harmed in the bombing which took place in a desert area.

The pipeline forms part of a network that brings crude from the Marib oil basin to storage tanks at the Ras Issa terminal for export.

US-ally Yemen is a small producer of oil with output of around 330,000 barrels per day (bpd) and exports of about 200,000 bpd.

It has one large oil refinery at Aden with a throughput capacity of about 100,000 bpd.

In 2003, disgruntled tribesmen damaged the same pipeline in a similar bombing.

Tribesmen often kidnap holidaymakers and foreigners working in Yemen to press for better schools, roads and services, or the release of prisoners.

Yemen has been widely seen in the West as a haven for Islamist militants, including al Qaeda supporters. It joined the US-led war on terrorism launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and has been battling Islamic militants for years.

It foiled two suicide attacks on oil and gas installations in 2006, days after al Qaeda urged Muslims to target Western interests.

Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen claimed responsibility for the foiled attacks and vowed more strikes.

In 2002 militants bombed the French oil supertanker Limburg off Yemen's coast. In 2000, a suicide attack on the US warship Cole killed 17 US sailors.

Reuters PD GC1904

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