Islamist militants have claimed responsibility for blowing up an oil pipeline in southern Yemen late on Monday in a second such attack in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed five suspected al-Qaeda militants on Friday.
Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged since anti-government protests broke out in January 2011, with the feed line for the Yemen LNG gas export terminal blown up within hours of Friday’s air strike.
Ansar al-Sharia, an armed group affiliated with al-Qaeda, said in a text message on Tuesday that the latest oil pipeline explosion was part of "a chain of attacks" planned in response to the U.S. strike.
Al-Qaeda has strengthened its hold on southern areas of the Arabian Peninsula country, seizing several towns during the past year of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who left office in February 2012.
An oil industry official said Monday’s explosion set fire to the pipeline which transports oil from three fields in the southern province of Shabwa to the Ash Shihr oil terminal.
In a separate incident, security forces diffused on Tuesday a bomb near a police station in Aden's Mansoura neighborhood, a security official told Reuters, without elaborating.
Saleh was removed from power as part of a power-transfer deal brokered by Yemen's rich neighbors. His long-time deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected as president in February as stipulated by the deal signed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Yemen is only a small crude oil producer with a daily output of about 260,000 barrels per day of oil when all fields are operating, but disruptions to Yemeni exports have added to tight global supplies.
An attack a year ago by tribesmen on its main oil artery cut off crude to the 150,000 barrel per day Aden refinery, forcing it to shut and causing fuel shortages in the country.
Oil companies operating in Yemen include Austria’s OMV, the U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum and French oil group Total SA.