The head of the media department of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed in an air raid on militant outposts in Yemen, and gunmen retaliated by blowing up a gas export pipeline, Yemeni officials and residents said on Saturday, October 15, Reuters reported
The death of Ibrahim al-Banna, an Egyptian described by Yemeni officials as high on their wanted list, is a fresh blow to the Islamist group regarded by Washington as the most serious threat to the United States, following the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki last month.
But the destruction of France’s Total gas pipeline, which transports gas from the central Maarib province to Belhaf port on the Arabian Sea, was expected to deal a severe blow to the Yemeni economy, already reeling from months of protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.
The Yemeni Defense Ministry said six other militants died in the air raids late on Friday on militant hideouts near the town of Azzan in the southern Shabwa province, including the oldest son and a cousin of Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric.
But local residents and officials said they believed it was foreign aircraft, flying at high altitude and smaller than the Soviet-made Yemeni air force planes, that launched at least three strikes on several targets in the area.
Residents and officials said the 322-km pipeline, which links gas fields in Maarib, east of Sanaa, to a $4.5 billion Total-led liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, was blown up soon after the raids.