Blast halts Iran gas flow to Turkey, 28 troops wounded

ISTANBUL Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:40am EDT

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The gas flow on a pipeline carrying Iranian natural gas to Turkey was halted due to an explosion in eastern Turkey late on Thursday which also wounded soldiers in a passing military vehicle, Turkish government and energy officials said.

The blast happened in the area of Eleskirt, a town in Agri province. It was not clear what caused the blast, and when the gas flow will resume.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group has claimed responsibility for repeated attacks on pipelines in Turkey in its 28-year-old armed campaign against the Turkish state which has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

"The explosion occurred on a natural gas pipeline in Eleskirt as a military vehicle was passing, wounding 28 soldiers," Agri Governor Mehmet Tekinarslan was reported as saying by state-run Anatolian news agency.

The gas flow from Iran was halted earlier this month after an explosion in eastern Turkey and resumed a week later.

Flows have also been halted several times on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline carrying crude oil from Iraq to Turkey in recent months due to suspected sabotage blamed on the PKK, deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Seda Sezer; Editing by William Hardy)

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