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Pipeline attacks harm Turkish interests

ANKARA, Turkey, July 7 (UPI) -- Targeting oil pipelines spanning the border between Iraq and Turkey may be a way to harm Ankara's regional ambitions, analysts warn.

An explosion and fire on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline last weekend halted the flow of at least 5,000 barrels of oil. Turkish officials said the pipeline would be back up and running as early as this week, however.

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No organization claimed responsibility for the explosion, though analysts say the incident bore the hallmarks of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Nihat Ozcan, an analyst with the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, told Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman that such events are capable of sending strong messages to the international community.

"The financial cost of attacking the pipeline is minimal but still able to inflict much harm," he said. "Pipelines are easy targets."

Ankara touts itself as a bridge between the East and the West as evidenced by the vast network of oil and gas pipelines carrying oil and gas from Russia and Central Asia to European markets.

"Turkey is emphasizing its role as an important energy hub and its ability to be a major route for many future pipelines, which will also carry natural gas," said Ozcan. "The PKK, by targeting these pipelines, is also trying to harm the long-term interests of Turkey."

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