Key Iraqi gas pipeline blown up

Nov 25, 2003 01:00 AM

A key gas pipeline has been blown up in northern Iraq, setting off a huge fire and threatening production at the country's largest oil refinery. The glow from the huge fire that followed could be seen 30 km away in the night sky over the town of Kirkuk.
A North Oil Company spokesman in Kirkuk said an explosive device caused the pipeline fire. Sabotage of pipelines and other infrastructure has become a major problem for the United States-led coalition and its Iraqi partners as they try to revive the country's giant petroleum industry -- the key to economic recovery.

The latest attack has halted supplies of gas from Jambur oil field to a power plant in the town of Baiji. That in turn is likely to stall production at the refinery in Baiji -- Iraq's largest. The impact of that and the suspension of civilian flights into Baghdad airport, following a missile attack on a DHL cargo plane at the weekend, undermine efforts by US officials to rebuild war-torn Iraq.
It also saw signs that the anti-coalition insurgency is spreading beyond its stronghold in the Sunni triangle in central Iraq. In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen set off a roadside bomb and opened fire on a passing US convoy. One soldier was wounded in the attack, which took place a day after two American soldiers were killed there and their bodies mutilated.

Witnesses to the attack said gunmen shot the soldiers, sending their vehicle crashing into a wall. About a dozen teenagers then dragged the men from the wreckage and hit them with concrete blocks.
“One of the soldiers was shot under the chin and the bullet came out of his head. I saw the hole in his helmet. The other was shot in the throat,” said witness Bahaa Jassim.

The frenzy recalled the October 1993 scene in Somalia, when residents dragged through the streets the bodies of US Marines killed in fighting with warlords. While some Mosul residents said they were appalled at the mutilation of bodies, others showed no sympathy for the Americans. Truck driver Hisham Abed said that they were occupiers “and this is their punishment”.
“If someone is killed, his family has to take revenge,” he said. “The Americans kill people by mistake and then apologise the next day. This doesn't work here... The Americans make nothing but empty promises. There's no electricity, no petrol and no work.”

Source: Singapore Press
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