* Explosion caused by sabotage, official says
* Kurdish militants have carried out such attacks in past
* Gazprom increases gas supplies to Turkey
* Turkish energy minister says no problem meeting demand
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA, Oct 19 Saboteurs bombed a gas pipeline
in eastern Turkey, halting the flow of Iranian gas and causing
minor injuries to 28 soldiers, Turkish officials said on Friday.
The overnight attack, less than a week after gas flow was
restarted following a previous strike, prompted
Russia's Gazprom to increase its supplies to Turkey to
offset the shortfall.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the line would be
back in operation soon, but gave no firm timescale.
"Despite the cut in the gas flow, there is no problem in
meeting natural gas demand," Taner told reporters.
"We increased the amount of natural gas which we take from
Russia. The damaged line will go back into operation in a short
Gazprom Export said it had met a request from Turkish
pipeline operator Botas to increase supply via the underwater
Blue Stream pipeline to 48 million cubic metres a day from 32
Turkey is Gazprom's second-largest natural gas consumer
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has claimed
responsibility for repeated attacks on pipelines in Turkey in
its 28-year-old armed campaign for Kurdish self-governance which
has intensified over the last few months.
The soldiers who were hurt were passing in a military
vehicle when the blast occurred near the town of Eleskirt, some
250 km (150 miles) west of the Iranian border.
They were treated for minor injuries, burns and smoke
inhalation, an official said.
Oil flows have also been halted several times on the
Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline carrying crude to Turkey from Iraq in
recent months due to suspected sabotage by the PKK.