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Efforts Underway to Repair Sabotaged Iraqi Oil Pipeline - 2003-08-18

The U.S. military says efforts are underway to try to repair Iraq's fire-damaged main oil export pipeline.

The top U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, says the damage to the pipeline is costing the war-torn nation's battered economy $7 million a day in lost revenue.

Two fires, which started along the pipeline late last week, continued to burn Sunday near the northern town of Baiji. American military officials say at least one appears to have been the result of sabotage.

U.S. officials say the pipeline is expected to be closed for repairs until next month. It had just begun post-war operation last week.

The oil pipeline stretches from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Iraq has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, but analysts say a decade of neglect has left its petroleum pipelines, pumping stations and oil reservoirs in dilapidated condition.

Meanwhile, a large water main in Baghdad was hit by a bomb on Sunday, cutting off water supplies to parts of the capital. The U.S. military says that attack also appears to be the work of saboteurs.

Reports say some 300,000 people are without drinking water amid late summer temperatures there reaching 50 degrees Celsius.

In another development, American forces near Baghdad shot and killed a Reuters news agency cameraman who was filming outside an Iraqi prison, after mistaking him for an armed guerrilla.

Senior U.S. military officials say American troops "engaged" cameraman Mazen Dana because they thought he was pointing a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at them.

The shooting occurred midday Sunday near the Abu Ghraib prison, which had been the scene of a deadly mortar attack a day before. A group of journalists, including Mr. Dana, were there to report on the attack, which killed six Iraqi detainees and wounded dozens more.

Reuters quotes a colleague, soundman Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was working alongside Mr. Dana as saying U.S. soldiers outside the prison knew who they were and what they were doing there. He said one American soldier gave them permission to film an overview of the facility.

Reuters Chief Executive Tom Glocer says he hopes there will be a full investigation into Mr. Dana's death.

A total of 17 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war started on March 20.

Mr. Dana was married with four children. The 43-year-old Palestinian cameraman received the International Press Freedom Award in 2001 for his work in the West Bank city of Hebron.