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Bombers attack Basra oil pipeline
by Guardian (reposted)
Thursday Mar 27th, 2008 7:42 AM
One of southern Iraq's two main oil export pipelines has been severely damaged in a bomb attack, officials said today.
The bombing of the pipeline, seven miles south of Basra, came as clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shia fighters in the port city entered a third day.

"This morning, saboteurs blew up the pipeline transporting crude from [the] Zubair 1 [oil plant] by placing bombs beneath it," an oil company official said.

"Crude exports will be greatly affected because this is one of two main pipelines transporting crude to the southern terminals. We will lose about a third of crude exported through Basra."

The official said it would take three days to repair the damage if security could be provided for workers.

Iraq exported 1.54 million barrels of crude per day from Basra in February.

Today, regular explosions could be heard in the city as security forces continued a crackdown on Shia factions including Mahdi Army fighters loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Authorities imposed curfews across southern Iraq in an attempt to halt the spread of violence.S

Yesterday, the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, gave Shia militia and other gunmen a 72-hour deadline to surrender their weapons.

by IOL (reposted)
Thursday Mar 27th, 2008 7:42 AM
BASRA — As the government and the Shiite Mehdy Army militia trade accusations over the raging violence in the southern city of Basra, many residents are trying to flee while others are trapped inside with no food, clean water or even access to hospitals to save injured relatives.
"My wife has been injured with a bullet while she was sitting near the window of our home," resident Abbas Shakarti, 43, told in a phone interview.

"We are unable to go to the nearby hospital as clashes are raging in our street. She is bleeding and I don’t have even a tablet of pain killer in my home," he lamented.

"My kids are crying and hungry because we had not been stockpiling on food supplies."

Fighting raged for the second consecutive day between Iraqi troops and Mehdy Army fighters after the army launched a crackdown on the militants.

At least 20 people have been killed and 200 others wounded, according to the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Powerful Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr earlier asked Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, personally overseeing the offensive, to leave Basra and send a parliamentary delegation to resolve the crisis.

Sadr threatened on Tuesday to launch nationwide protests and a civil revolt.

But a defiant Maliki on Wednesday given the Shiite militiamen a 72-hour deadline to hand over their weapons or face "grave consequences."

Police said 218 militiamen had been detained since the launch of the Saulat al-Fursan (Charge of the Knights) operation.

Ghost City

Basra has turned into a ghost city with only militants and security forces patrolling the streets.

The streets were deserted and schools and most shops remained closed.

Salua Maruan, a 32-year-old mother of two, said her husband left home to buy some food when clashes started yesterday.

"I don’t know if he is alive or not because our street is full of militants," she said over the phone.

"I’m scared and my children are eating only rice and tomatoes because we have ran out of food," she said.

"There is no water in my home and the remaining will not be enough for today."