DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) – Firefighters in southeastern Turkey were battling to put out a fire on Saturday that cut oil flows on a pipeline carrying about a quarter of Iraq’s oil exports, security sources said.
They said the fire at the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline had been an act of sabotage by Kurdish separatists.
An explosion started the fire at 11 p.m. (10:00 p.m. British time) on Friday near the town of Midyat in Mardin province, near the Syrian border, the sources said.
Officials blamed the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group that has claimed responsibility for past attacks on the 960-km (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.