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Islamic State attacks Iraqi oil and gas facilities

Kurdish military forces said to be still searching areas around Kirkuk for attackers.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Islamic State attacks Iraqi oil and gas facilities
Peshmerga forces combing parts of northern Iraq after militants stormed oil and gas facilities near the area of Kirkuk. Photo by Spc. Jessica Hurst/U.S. Army | License Photo

KIRKUK, Iraq, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Kurdish military leaders confirmed to Arab media the Islamic State terror group was responsible for attacks on oil and gas installations in northern Iraq.

Suicide bombers with the group calling itself the Islamic State attacked the Bai Hassan oil field, one of the largest in the region, leaving one person dead Sunday. Terrorists in a separate incident stormed the nearby AB2 gas compression station, leaving at least four people dead.

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"The Islamic State terror group struck the AB2 gas compressor station and were able to break in, leaving four employees dead," Kamal Kirkuki, a commander with the Kurdish military forced called Peshmerga, told Asharq al-Awsat. "One police officer was also wounded."

The region is plagued by violence attributed to Islamic State militants and, separately, to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PKK. Attacks in the immediate area, west of Kirkuk, have been relatively rare since the terrorist group started laying claim to parts of the region two years ago.

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Oil flows from the semi-autonomous Kurdish north of Iraq through Turkey have been disrupted by militants in the past.

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The attack, according to Arab media, idled about 55,000 barrels of oil production per day. It was unclear what amount of gas work was disrupted and there were no indications when normal operations would resume. Kurdish forces were still searching areas in and around the attack sites for Islamic State militants.

According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iraq was one of the few 14 member states reporting substantial declines in production for June, the last full month for which data are available. June oil production was 4.2 million bpd, about 1.3 percent lower than the previous month.

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