An explosion which caused a fire at its main oil pipeline on Friday was caused by “terrorist” sabotage, Bahrain said, linking the unprecedented attack to its arch-foe Iran, Reuters reports.
“The incident was an act of sabotage and a dangerous act of terrorism aimed at harming the higher interests of the nation and the safety of the people. Terrorist acts witnessed by the country in the recent period are carried out through direct contacts and instructions from Iran,” the Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa was quoted as saying.
Following an investigation by local authorities, Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa alleged groups linked to Iran conducted an attack near the village of Buri to destabilize the majority Shi’ite Muslim kingdom.
“His Excellency stressed that this is the latest example of a terrorist act performed by terrorists in direct contact with, and under instruction from, Iran. The Minister reaffirmed that the Ministry of Interior’s utmost priority is the safety and security of all citizens, and the Ministry will spare no effort to maintain public safety,” Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.
No one was injured in the explosion late Friday night near the Shi’ite village of Buri and no militant group immediately claimed the blast. However, it potentially opens a new front in the low-level insurgency plaguing Bahrain since its 2011 Arab Spring protests. The explosion damaged cars and nearby buildings, forcing firefighters to evacuate those close to the flames in Buri, just outside of the capital, Manama. Authorities later extinguished the blaze on the pipeline belonging to the state-run Bahrain Petroleum Co.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa later tweeted that the explosion had targeted a pipeline running between the island nation and neighboring Saudi Arabia, which provides financial and security support to the kingdom. This “is a dangerous Iranian escalation aimed at terrorizing citizens and damaging the world’s oil industry,” the minister tweeted.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, would halt pumping its own crude oil into Bahrain for refining over the pipeline explosion, potentially affecting the island’s gasoline market. The plan to step up security was reported by Al-Arabiya television Saturday, citing the Saudi energy ministry.
Saudi Arabia has placed all its oil facilities on high alert after an attack on Bahrain’s oil pipeline and has also announced that it is suspending oil supply to Bahrain following the blast.
“The attack on the pipeline… was followed by the suspension of the pumping of oil to the State of Bahrain,” said a statement from Riyadh’s ministry of energy, industry and minister resources.
The ministry 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”. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia’s oil flows to Bahrain have gradually resumed after a brief halt, Bahrain’s national oil company BAPCO said.
“Operations are underway to increase the refining output gradually, in cooperation with Aramco, upon completion of repairs soon,” BAPCO said in a statement late on Saturday.