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Fires Disrupt Iraqi Oil Pipeline; Sabotage Blamed in Baghdad Water Cutoff - 2003-08-17

Two fires on an Iraqi oil pipeline burned out of control Sunday. And a blast blamed on saboteurs blew a hole in a giant Baghdad water main, cutting off water supplies to the capital.

Separately, six people at an Iraqi prison outside Baghdad were reported killed and dozens of other wounded in a mortar attack.

The fires on the oil export pipeline are reported a short distance from each other near the town of Baiji. The first began Friday, while the second occurred Saturday evening. U.S. authorities called the first attack sabotage but say they have not determined the cause of the second blaze.

Authorities say the pipeline, which is a key to Iraq's post-war economic recovery, will be closed until next month for repairs. The pipeline had just begun post-war operation Wednesday.

Details of the prison attack outside Baghdad are sketchy. A U.S. army spokesman said three mortar rounds killed three prisoners on impact, while three others died later in a hospital.

The pipeline covers nearly 1,000 kilometers, from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. American officials say Iraq loses at least $6 million in revenue each day the pipeline is not operating.

In other developments Sunday, a Danish soldier was shot to death during a clash with looters overnight near the southern city of Basra. Two Iraqis also died in that incident.