x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 November 2017

Bahrain says Iran behind oil pipeline explosion

Manama says incident was an “act of terrorism” caused by sabotage

Flames are seen after an explosion at an oil pipeline in Buri village, Bahrain, in this still image taken from a November 10, 2017 video from social media. Zainab Salman / Reuters
Flames are seen after an explosion at an oil pipeline in Buri village, Bahrain, in this still image taken from a November 10, 2017 video from social media. Zainab Salman / Reuters

Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed said that Iran was responsible for an oil pipeline explosion at Buri, 14 kilometres south of Manama.

“The attempt to bomb the Saudi-Bahraini oil pipeline is a dangerous Iranian escalation that aims to scare citizens and hurt the global oil industry,” said Sheikh Khalid on Twitter on Saturday. He included in his tweet a hashtag in Arabic that read "Iran is targeting us all".

Bahrain said that the incident on Friday night was an intentional “act of terrorism” by sabotage.

Sheikh Khalid’s remarks echo that of Bahrain’s interior minister, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah, who said on Saturday: “The terrorist incidents that Bahrain has been witnessing recently are happening either through direct calls or guidance from Iran.”

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia resumed pumping oil to Bahrain after temporarily suspending activity, said the state-run Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco).

"Operations are under way to increase the refining output gradually, in co-operation with Aramco, upon completion of repairs soon," Bapco had said on Saturday.

Bahrain relies on the Abu Safa field, which it shares with neighbouring Saudi Arabia, for much of its oil pumped via the 230,000-barrel-per-day pipeline.

Saudi Arabia had beefed up security precautions at its facilities following the explosion.

"The attack on the pipeline … was followed by the suspension of the pumping of oil to the state of Bahrain," the Saudi ministry of energy, industry and mineral resources said.

The ministry of energy also confirmed that it has increased its security precautions at all its facilities, and that "all these facilities enjoy the highest levels of protection and safety”.

Arab countries — including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and Oman — condemned Friday’s incident, saying they stand firmly with Bahrain and against any form of terrorism and sabotage.

A Saudi foreign ministry source reiterated comments made by the Bahrain’s interior minister that recent terrorist acts in Bahrain have been a “direct” result of Iranian aggression, reported state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

''The UAE condemns this cowardly terrorist act, which seeks to undermine the security of the kingdom of Bahrain,'' said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said: “This cowardly act will not be successful in rocking the security and stability of the brotherly kingdom of Bahrain.”

Oman said that it completely supports Bahrain and any measures it may take to "combat all forms of sabotage and terrorism that target innocent people", reported the state-run Oman News agency.

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Bahrain said Tehran is funding militant cells in the small kingdom and had a part in stoking the 2011 anti-government protests, which were led by the country’s Shiite majority.

Demonstrations began in February and were suppressed in March. Saudi troops and Emirati police officers were called to help provide security.

Spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry Bahram Ghassemi denied on Sunday that Tehran was behind the explosion.

Meanwhile, a Bahraini opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, will face trial later this month for "spying" for Qatar, with which Bahrain has cut all ties over its support of extremist groups and friendly relations with Iran.

Last month, 10 men were handed life sentences by a Bahraini court on charges of plotting attacks. Three of them were sentenced in absentia after fleeing to Iran. This was a day after 19 people received lengthy prison terms for similar charges.

In March, Bahrain said it uncovered a 54-member Iranian-linked militant group suspected of involvement in attacks on security forces, including organising a prison break in January.