Protests have erupted in Yemen's capaital Sanaa after the government announced a sharp rise in fuel prices, part of a bid to ease the burden of energy subsidies on the impoverished country's state finances and curb its budget deficit.

Witnesses and a medical source said a female protester was killed as the army fired into the air in an attempt to break up a demonstration near the presidential palace. Yemeni officials were not immediately available for verification of the death.

According to new prices posted in the capital, Sanaa, the government raised regular petrol from $0.58 a litre to $0.93. Diesel used for public transport and trucks rose from $0.46 to $0.91.

The government spent about $3bn on energy subsidies last year, nearly a third of state revenue.

Yemen has been trying for over a year to secure a loan of at least $560m from the International Monetary Fund, but the fund is pressing for subsidies to be slashed.

Oil pipeline bombed

In a separate incident that could make matters worse for the countrys fuel costs, armed men have blown up Yemen's main oil export pipeline on Wednesday, halting vital crude flows, a local official said.

Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabatoged by rebels and tribesmen since anti-government protests led to a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and curbing export earnings.

The latest attack happened in the Wady Obaida area of the central oil-producing province of Maarib, halting the flow of crude to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea, the official added.

The pipeline was last repaired on July 24 after it was blown up on July 12.

As a result of frequent bomnings, Sanaa earned just $671m from exporting crude oil from January to May, down nearly 40 percent from a year ealier.

Tribesmen have previously carried out such assaults to pressure the government to provide jobs, settle land disputes, or free relatives from prison.

Source: Agencies