Two soldiers and a civilian were killed in clashes between armed tribesmen and pro-government forces in south-eastern Shabwa province, local dignitaries told The National on Thursday.
Fighting broke out when a guard from an oil production company shot and killed one of dozens of local Balharith tribe members who were protesting to demand their unpaid wages, said Mohammed Al Bereiki, a retired army colonel.
"The tribesmen then attacked outposts controlled by the Al Islah party [Muslim brotherhood in Yemen] who guard the Jannah Hunt oil company operating in Wadi Jannah in Asilan district of north-west Shabwa," Mr Al Bereiki said.
The tribesmen killed two armed men late on Wednesday and injured a dozen. They also took control of posts near the company headquarters, he said.
Islah forces called for reinforcements on Thursday from the neighbouring province of Marib to restore their control over the company.
The fighting was underpinned by tensions between pro-government forces, which took control of the province after expelling the government Elite Forces in August 2019, and the tribes in the oil-rich province.
The armed forces linked to the Al Islah party took control of the oil-producing areas in Shabwa in June.
These paramilitary forces are comprised of fighters from northern provinces, most of which are under control of the Houthi rebels, said Mohammed Al Ghaithy, the Southern Transitional Council’s deputy director of foreign affairs.
Similar clashes repeatedly occur between these forces and the tribes in Shabwa. The tribes are demanding that Al Islah-linked forces pull out from the province and that the government's local Elite Forces are redeployed.
Shabwa and Hadramawt provinces produced most of Yemen's oil, the main source of revenue for the Arab world's poorest country, before the civil war disrupted production.
Shabwa resumed exports of crude in August 2018, but production is still under threat because of the security situation in the war-torn country.