Suspected al-Qaida militants blew up a gas exporting pipeline in Yemen's southeast province of Shabwa on Thursday night, a provincial security official told Xinhua.
"The pipeline transferring liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Yemeni Marib province to the Belhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden was bombed in al-Akla area of Jardan district north of Shabwa's provincial capital city of Ataq," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Huge fire and heave smoke could be seen from inside Ataq, he said.
An official with the Yemeni Liquefied Natural Gas Company in Belhaf confirmed the attack. "The company has immediately halted all gas flow from Marib following the attack," the LNG official told Xinhua by phone.
It was the third attack on oil and gas pipelines in Yemen in less than a month. The al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have claimed responsibility for previous attacks, saying the bombings were in revenge for air strikes on their hideouts in Yemeni southern cities.
The attack on Thursday came after reports that Washington approved to increase air strikes in Yemen to target the AQAP.
Last week, the LNG company, which is led by France's Total, said it resumed output operations after repairing a damaged pipeline which was bombed on March 30, forcing the company to cancel six LNG cargos for export.
The Yemeni interior ministry said last week it tightened security around the LNG Company and its establishments in Belhaf district after receiving intelligence information that the al- Qaida network has prepared to launch suicide bombing attacks against the oil and LNG facilities in Shabwa.
The AQAP has seized several cities in southern and eastern regions of the impoverished Arab country since earlier last year, despite intensified air strikes by Yemeni army and U.S. drones.
Yemen's economy is dependent on petroleum production, with oil and gas export accounting for about 63 percent of the impoverished country's budget.
(Originally published April 26, 2012, by Xinhua General News Service.)
Copyright 2012 Xinhua News Agency