July 10 (Reuters) – Yemen accused Shi’ite rebels on Saturday of kidnapping five oil workers this week and said it had foiled an attempt to blow up an oil pipeline.
Yemen is struggling to curb a separatist movement in the south and cement a ceasefire with Shi’ite rebels in the north, and is under pressure to combat a resurgent al Qaeda wing.
The Interior Ministry said that five employees of a state oil company were kidnapped by the rebels on Thursday.
“The Houthis captured five staff from an oil company in Marib along with their car when they were inspecting fuel stations in the directorate of Barat in al-Jouf province,” it said in a statement.
“The security forces … are using all measures to ensure their release.”
A Houthi source denied any link to the incident, saying the kidnap was a result of a tribal dispute.
In a separate statement, the government said security forces had foiled an attempt to sabotage an oil pipeline in Marib in the northeast of the country. The pipeline is used to transport oil to ports on the Red Sea.
It said that “unknown people” were forced to flee by security guards during the incident. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Jason Benham; Editing by Maria Golovnina)