BEIRUT

Middle East

Yemen warplanes hit suspected power line saboteurs

Protesters seek cover as police fire tear gas and open fire into the air to disperse them during a demonstration against Yemen's fuel shortages, June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

SANAA: Yemeni warplanes conducted strikes Wednesday against tribesmen suspected of sabotaging power lines, in attacks that have left the country without electricity for two days, tribal sources said, reporting casualties.

Tuesday's attack on the power lines was the third of its kind this month, and officials have accused the tribesmen of blocking the road linking Sanaa to the eastern province of Marib, making it impossible to carry out repairs.

The air strikes on Wednesday targeted a "gathering of tribesmen" near Marib, a tribal source said, without being immediately able to provide a casualty toll.

Another tribal source said the saboteurs were protesting against Marib's governor, who they accuse of seizing government subsidies destined to the tribes.

Deeply-tribal Yemen has suffered a total blackout since Tuesday, with the entire national power and energy grid suspended, including Marib's gas plant, according to the electricity and energy ministry.

Attacks on power lines in Yemen are common and are often launched by heavily armed tribesmen as a lever to press for the release of jailed relatives or to support other demands.

The absence of reliable electricity supplies further complicates the lives of Yemenis, who already suffer water and food shortages.

Residents of the capital Sanaa have also faced severe fuel shortages for weeks, with motorists having to queue for hours at petrol stations.

 

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