SANAA Aug 6 Tribesmen shot down a Yemeni
military helicopter on Tuesday as it fired rockets at gunmen
suspected of involvement in blowing up oil pipelines in the
centre of the country, witnesses said.
The government has been frustrated by repeated attacks on
Yemen's main oil export pipeline, often carried out by
disgruntled tribesmen seeking personal gain or trying to force
authorities to release jailed relatives.
Witnesses said the helicopter pilot was killed when the
helicopter came down in the central Maarib province.
"The helicopter was firing from a low altitude at armed
tribesmen accused of blowing up the oil pipeline," one witness
said. "The gunmen fired back with a machinegun and it crashed."
Defence Ministry officials could not immediately be reached
for a comment.
Yemen, one of the most impoverished countries in the Arab
World, is facing a host of challenges as it tries to restore
state authority nearly two years after long-serving President
Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down in 2011, including a
regular challenge to state authority by armed tribesmen.
The country of 25 million depends for between 60 and 70
percent of its state budget on oil revenues. The last pipeline
attack, on Saturday, came less than a week after it was repaired
following a similar bombing.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing
by Jon Boyle)