Interior Minister Rashad Rashad al-Eleimi said authorities arrested the militants who also had links to the four suicide bombers who had planned to blow up the oil installations.
The minister said security forces confiscated 12 bags each containing about 88 to 110 pounds of highly explosive material as well as masks and women's clothing, which militants usually use to disguise themselves. He said the four men who were arrested planned to carry out attacks against Yemeni and foreign targets but did not provide more details.
Security forces surrounded the militants from Friday night until they were arrested early Saturday morning. The interior minister said the alleged militants opened fire at the security forces but were contained and no one was hurt.
"We are certain that this cell has links with al Qaeda network and with those who carried out the attacks in Mareb and Hadarmut," al-Eleimi told reporters. He said the four admitted their links to the terror network during interrogations.
On Friday,a refinery in Mareb and an oil storage facility in Hadarmut but failed. The four were killed when their cars blew up in an exchange of fire with security forces. Al-Eleimi said the vehicles that blew up were all equipped with up to 10 gas canisters as well as explosives.
The interior minister also said the attempts to blow up the oil installations and Saturday's arrest of the alleged militants were linked to a videotape aired Monday of the al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, threatening attacks on the Gulf and on facilities he blamed for stealing Muslim oil.
"There is no doubt that there are sleepers cells," in Yemen, al-Eleimi said.
Al Qaeda has an active presence in Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, despite government efforts to fight the network. The group was blamed for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole destroyer in Aden that killed 17 American sailors and the attack on a French oil tanker, the Limburg, that killed one person two years later.