17 killed as Yemen army, tribesmen clash: tribal sources
[Al Ahram] Yemen's army Tuesday launched an offensive against rustics suspected of repeatedly sabotaging an oil pipeline in east Yemen, sparking festivities which left 17 people dead, tribal sources said.
The dead included 10 rustics and seven soldiers, said the sources, who added that the army offensive in Marib province's Habab valley, 140 kilometres (87 miles) east of the capital Sanaa, was launched in the early hours of the morning and was backed by air raids.
The sources said the army was "randomly shelling" the area where some Al-Qaeda hard boyz joined rustics ranks in battling Yemeni troops. Marib is a major Al-Qaeda stronghold in the country.
Tribesmen, of whom 18 were also maimed according to the same sources, fought back with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, one source said.
The army did not immediately confirm the deaths of four soldiers.
According to official figures, lost production due to attacks on the oil pipeline in the east cost the government more than $1 billion dollars in 2012, while oil exports fell by 4.5 percent.
A tribal source told AFP that the offensive was aimed against prominent figure Salah bin Hussein al-Dammaj, who has allegedly blown up the pipeline several times to pressure the authorities to pay him 100 million riyals ($480,000) in compensation for land he claims was taken from him in Sanaa.
The 320-kilometre (200-mile) pipeline carries oil from Safer oilfields in Marib to an export terminal on the Red Sea. It produces around 180,000 barrels per day.
Posted by: Fred 2012-12-26