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Two Iraqi Oil Pipeline Fires Burn out of Control; Water Main Attacked in Baghdad - 2003-08-17


Two fires on an Iraqi oil pipeline burned out of control today, Sunday. And a blast blamed on saboteurs blew a hole in a giant Baghdad water main -- cutting off water supplies to parts of the capital.

Separately, six people at an Iraqi prison outside Baghdad were reported killed and dozens of other wounded in a mortar attack. A cameraman for Reuters News Agency was later killed -- apparently by small arms fire -- while filming the scene of the mortar attack.

Details of the prison attack are sketchy. A US Army spokesman said three mortar rounds killed three prisoners on impact, while three others died later in a hospital.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a Danish soldier was shot to death during a clash with looters overnight near the southern city of Basra. Two Iraqis also died in that incident.

The fires on the oil export pipeline are reported a short distance from each other near the town of Baiji. The first began Friday, while the second occurred Saturday evening. US authorities called the first attack sabotage, but say they have not determined the cause of the second blaze.

Authorities say the pipeline -- a key to Iraq's post-war economic recovery -- will be closed until next month for repairs. The pipeline had just begun post-war operation Wednesday.

The pipeline covers nearly one-thousand kilometers, from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. US officials say Iraq loses at least six-million dollars in revenue each day the pipeline is not operating.

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