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Friday, September 29, 2006

Explosion on natural gas pipeline near Turkey-Iran border

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP)- An explosion ignited a fire on a natural gas pipeline near the Turkey-Iran border, Turkish news reports said on Friday.

The state-run Anatolia news agency cited district head Rauf Ulusoy as saying the explosion occurred late Thursday night in the Iranian city of Bazargan, about 1 kilometer (half a mile) east of the Gurbulak border gate.

The private Dogan news agency cited Turkish truckers as saying they could hear ambulances and fire engines going to the blast site.

Last month, Kurdish guerrillas belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, blew up part of the same pipeline in the Turkish city of Agri, shutting down the flow of gas for four days.

The rebels are active on both sides of the border and have sabotaged pipelines in the past as part of their struggle for an autonomous homeland. More than 37,000 people have been killed in Turkey since the rebels took up arms in 1984.

Turkey has been importing natural gas from Iran through the 2,577-kilometer (1,598-mile) pipeline since 2001. Turkish and Iranian officials are reportedly discussing expanding the pipeline for exports to Europe.

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