At least three killed, 51 injured in southern Iraq blast targeting pipeline

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At least three people were killed and more than 50 injured in a gas pipeline explosion in southern Iraq, police sources said on Saturday.

The military said in a statement that the cause of the blast was not known. It said nine Shia militia fighters were among the wounded and two children had been killed.

Police sources said the blast, near the southern city of Samawa, 270 km (170 miles) south of Baghdad, occurred along a stretch of pipeline that goes near a militia camp. Gas officials said the pipe there had seen leaks in the past.

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Firefighters managed to contain the fire after shutting down the gas line, police said.

The oil ministry said in a statement it had sent technical crews to repair the damaged section. Gas flows would resume in the “next hours” via an alternative pipeline, to avoid shortages of supplies to power stations.

An investigation was launched to determine cause of blast, the statement cited Deputy Oil Minister Hamid Younis as saying.

Iraqi energy officials said the domestic line transports gas from some of the southern fields to feed power stations in some southern cities and a key power station near Baghdad.

The explosion has no effect on Iraq’s gas production and processing operations, two gas officials said.

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