Sana’a: The authorities in Yemen have seized a shipment of assault rifles at the southern port of Aden that originated from Turkey, the second in the same month, state media reported on Friday.
Among the weapons discovered in a container were “115 T14 Turkish-made assault rifles,” state news agency Saba quoted Aden customs chief Mohammad Zumam as saying.
He said a total of 3,780 automatic rifles were found in the container, labelled as plastic household items, that arrived in the port from Turkey on November 16 last year.
Zumam did not name the sender or recipient of the shipment.
At the beginning of November, the Yemeni defence ministry said a cargo of weapons found in boxes used for biscuits and originating in Turkey had been seized in Aden.
Ankara said afterwards that it had never authorised sending arms to Yemen.
“We certainly have not authorised such a shipment of weapons. It is not thinkable to OK such arms exports to countries where conflict risks are high and where it could result in more deaths,” the Turkish foreign ministry said.
Yemen is already awash with guns.
The impoverished nation is prey to attacks in the east and south blamed on Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, that have become more frequent in the wake of a 2011 popular uprising that ousted veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Meanwhile, unidentified attackers blew up Yemen’s main oil pipeline, forcing the country to shut down one of its most lucrative sources of income, government and tribal sources said on Saturday.
Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged by insurgents and tribesmen since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the country.
Witnesses said the pipeline linking production fields in the central Maarib province to the Red Sea was attacked on Friday night.
“We heard a blast in the Sirwah area followed by flames rising from the pipeline,” one tribal witness told Reuters.
Yemen’s stability is a priority for the United States and its Gulf Arab allies because of the country’s strategic position next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and shipping lanes, and because is home to one of Al Qaida’s most active wings.
A government source said production was halted after a device placed under the pipeline exploded.
“The army is on the trail of the saboteurs and technical teams will immediately start repairing the damage,” the source said.
A long closure of the line last year forced the country’s largest refinery at Aden to shut, leaving the small producer dependent on fuel donations from Saudi Arabia and imports.
On December 31, Yemen resumed oil pumping at a rate of around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) after the latest repairs to a pipeline which used to carry around 110,000 bpd of Marib light crude to an export terminal on the Red Sea before a spate of attacks began in 2011.