Iraqi Taps Run Dry After Explosion

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AP
Taps ran dry in the capital and oil exports to Turkey ground to a halt because of a water main explosion and two oil pipeline blazes that raised new concerns saboteurs are hitting infrastructure to slow Iraq's recovery.

In new violence, a mortar attack on a Baghdad prison being used by the Americans killed six Iraqis. A new group of resistance fighters has said they would battle the U.S.-led occupation whether or not it brings progress in rebuilding the country.

The explosion in northern Baghdad blew a hole in a 5-foot-diameter water main early Sunday, flooding streets and forcing engineers to cut off water to all of Baghdad.

Witnesses said they saw two men on a motorbike leaving a bag of explosives and detonating it minutes later.

"It was an act of sabotage," said Majid Noufel, an engineer with the Baghdad water company. "We've had to stop pumping water to the whole city so we can fix the damage."

Residents, finding their taps dry, rushed to stock up on bottled water. Many stores ran out quickly.

"I couldn't find any water to wash the clothes," lamented housewife Amira Ali, 46. "The next few days we're really going to suffer."

Officials said they would have water restored by evening.

In other developments:

  • A Reuters cameraman was shot and killed Sunday while filming outside the Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad. A Reuters staffer said Mazen Dana, 41, a Palestinian, appeared to have been shot by U.S. soldiers.
  • The Danish army reported one of its soldiers died from a gunshot after stopping a truck of Iraqis on Saturday in southern Iraq. Military authorities said it appeared the soldier was killed by friendly fire. He was the first Dane killed since Denmark sent about 400 soldiers to join the stabilization force around Basra.
  • U.S. troops shut down a major bomb-making facility near Tikrit and arrested two people, Lt. Col. Steve Russell of the 4th Infantry Division said. Russell said the troops seized C-4 plastic explosives, plastic caps, equipment used to detonate switches and shrapnel fragmentation used in bombs, besides mortars and automatic rifles.
  • Near Baquoba, 45 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured 12 suspected Fedayeen Saddam militia members a few hundred yards from a U.S. base after getting a tip by an Iraqi informer, said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

    A new group of resistance fighters, the Iraqi National Islamic Resistance Movement, said in a videotape which aired on the Al-Jazeera television network that they would battle the occupying troops even if the U.S.-led coalition helps Iraq recover from war.

    "This resistance is not a reaction to the American provocations against the Iraqi people or to the shortage of services, as some analysts believe ... but to kick out the occupiers as a matter of principle," a man read from a statement.

    He sat with several other men holding grenade launchers and Kalashnikov automatic rifles. All had their faces covered with checkered headscarves.

    U.S. military spokesman Spc. Anthony Reinoso said Sunday that someone fired two mortar rounds at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison the previous night, killing six Iraqis and wounding 58. He didn't know whether the casualties were guards or prisoners, or who was responsible.

    The motivation was unclear. Abu Ghraib, feared under Saddam's regime for the executions of political prisoners and others that took place there, is now being used by Iraq's U.S. occupiers to house high-security criminals. U.S. troops positioned at and moving near the prison have been attacked in past months.

    Further north, two blazes raged out of control along the 600-mile pipeline that exports Iraq's oil to Turkey. The fires were within miles of each other, 125 miles northeast of Baghdad.

    The first began Friday, only two days after oil exports to Turkey resumed, and the second happened Saturday night.

    Coalition spokesman Charles Heatly said the first blaze appeared to be sabotage. Police Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, the new Iraqi police commander, vowed to pursue "a group of conspirators who received money from a particular party" to blow up the pipeline.

    Iraqi firefighters watched helplessly as smoke billowed a quarter-mile in the air from the second blaze. Supervisor Abdul Khaliq Akrum Fatah said for two fires to break out in such a short stretch of pipeline "is unheard of and very mysterious."

    "They have already closed the pipeline, so all we can do is wait for the remaining oil to burn," he said.

    Military spokesman Col. Guy Shields said it would take up to two weeks to fix the pipeline.

    Iraq has the world's second-largest proven crude reserves, at 112 billion barrels, but its pipelines, pumping stations and oil reservoirs are dilapidated after more than a decade of neglect. Northern Iraq, site of the giant Kirkuk oil fields, accounts for 40 percent of Iraq's oil production.

    L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq, opened the first meeting of a group that will coordinate international donations to Iraqi reconstruction.

    "The irony is that Iraq is a rich country that is temporarily poor," he said. "An event such as the explosion on the Kirkuk pipeline costs the Iraqi people $7 million a day and hurts the process of reconstruction."

    He said the group would prepare a list of needed projects for donors to invest in, and that specific pledges were expected at a conference in Madrid on Oct. 23-24.