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Refinery blaze in Yemen's Aden 'sabotage': official

A fire at the main oil refinery in Aden (pictured September 2016) was likely "the result of an explosion (and) probably a deliberate act of sabotage", an official said
A fire at the main oil refinery in Aden (pictured September 2016) was likely "the result of an explosion (and) probably a deliberate act of sabotage", an official said AFP/File
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Aden (AFP)

A fire that ripped through a storage tank at the main oil refinery in Yemen's Aden on Friday evening was probably started deliberately, an official said.

The fire, which also spread to a nearby pipeline, was likely "the result of an explosion (and) probably a deliberate act of sabotage", said the official, who did not wish to be named.

He did not specify who may have been responsible.

"The fire brigade are working to contain the blaze and stop it spreading to the neighbouring storage tanks, which are full of oil and diesel" donated by Saudi Arabia, he added.

Another official said security forces had prevented anyone from leaving the site and opened an investigation into the incident.

Early indications suggested "an explosion and an act of sabotage" were to blame, he said.

Yemen's government took up residence in the southern port city of Aden after Huthi rebels ousted it from the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Aden's refinery was damaged in fighting the following year between government and Huthi forces which put it out of operation for more than a year, causing severe fuel shortages and power cuts.

Yemen produced a relatively small amount of oil before its war escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia intervened to back the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against the Huthis.

The conflict has since killed nearly 10,000 people and pushed some 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

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