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Yemen's main oil pipeline bombed, crude flow stops: sources

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[February 01, 2014]  SANAA (Reuters)  Armed tribesmen bombed Yemen's main oil pipeline on Saturday, halting crude flow to the country's main export terminal less than a month after it was repaired, oil and local officials said.

The attack occurred in the Serwah district in the central oil-producing province of Maarib, they said, and caused a huge fire that prompted the closure of the pipeline and stopped oil flow from the Maarib fields to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea.

Yemen, which relies on crude exports to finance up to 70 percent of its budget, has suffered frequent bombings of its main pipeline in recent years. The last one took place on December 26 and the pipeline was repaired on January 5.

Disgruntled tribesmen stage these attacks to pressure the government to provide jobs, settle land disputes or free relatives from prison.

Such lawlessness is a global concern, particularly for the United States and its Gulf Arab allies, because of Yemen's strategic position next to oil exporter Saudi Arabia and to main shipping lanes.

Yeman is also home to one of al Qaeda's most active wings.

Before a spate of attacks that began in 2011, the 270-mile Maarib pipeline carried around 110,000 barrels per day to Ras Isa.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Maha El Dahan; editing by Tom Heneghan)

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