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Power-line attack plunges Yemen into darkness

Assault on lines linking Sanaa with al-Qaeda stronghold Marib trips national grid, cutting off power to all provinces.

Last updated: 11 Jun 2014 12:03
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Yemen has suffered repeated power outages in recent months [Reuters]

Yemen remains in a state of total darkness a day after a series of attacks on power lines left the country without electricity.

The country's energy ministry reported power lines linking the capital, Sanaa, with the al-Qaeda stronghold of Marib were attacked on Tuesday, leaving the entire nation of 23 million people without power.

"The act of sabotage at Kilometre 78 suspended the entire national power and energy grid, including at Marib's gas plant, and cut power in all provinces," a ministry spokesman told the defence ministry news website.

According to state news agency Saba, power lines in Marib had come under attack twice.

Technical teams were attempting to fix the lines after the first assault, but gunmen sabotaged them a second time and prevented technicians from fixing them again.

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 country has suffered repeated power outages in recent months, with the absence of reliable electricity supplies further complicating the lives of Yemenis, who already suffer water and food shortages.

Residents in Sanaa have complained of severe fuel shortages for weeks, with motorists having to queue for hours at petrol stations.

Yemen is the Arab world's most impoverished nation and has been suffering from a decade-long al-Qaeda insurgency, as well as tribal and sectarian conflicts.

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