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Explosion, fire shuts down Turkey-Iraq oil pipeline; PKK blamed

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey -- An explosion and fire has shut down twin pipelines that carry oil from Iraq to the Mediterranean, an official said Saturday. No one was hurt in the blast.

The explosion late Friday hit a section of a pipeline that carries oil from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, near the southeastern town of Midyat, Energy Ministry official said. A second line that runs parallel was not damaged, but was also shut down as a precaution, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of government rules, said the cause of the blast was under investigation but was most likely the result of sabotage.


The explosion started a fire at 11 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) on Friday, security sources said. Firefighters were battling to put out the blaze.

Officials blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group that has claimed responsibility for past attacks on the 600-mile pipeline.

Firat News, a website with ties to the PKK, also said the outlawed group was behind the attack.

Insurgents in Iraq have disrupted the transport of oil on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, the country's largest, in the past, and technical faults on the 35-year-old link, which consists of two pipes, have also cut flows.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984, and more than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict. It has claimed responsibility for attacks on other natural-gas and oil pipelines in what it has said is a campaign to target Turkey's strategic assets.

It was not clear when oil flows to Ceyhan would resume.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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