SANAA/ADEN - A senior Yemeni army official was killed on Saturday in an ambush by suspected al-Qaida members, while the army battled tribesmen who blew up the country's main oil export pipeline.

The chief-of-staff for Yemen's central military region in turbulent Maarib province, home to a large portion of the impoverished country's oil, died when gunmen fired on his vehicle, a security official said.

The attackers were probably militants linked to al-Qaida, said the official, who did not want to be identified.

Yemeni troops also launched an offensive in Maarib after an attack on the principal oil pipeline there on Friday. Two officers were killed and four soldiers injured in clashes with tribesmen, according to another security official.

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