Arab separatists claim 2 pipeline bombings in southern Iran

By Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

An Arab separatist group has claimed two pipeline bombings in Iran's oil-rich south and threatened to launch more attacks in the coming year as the country tries to boost production following the nuclear deal with world powers.

 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Arab separatist group has claimed two pipeline bombings in Iran's oil-rich south and threatened to launch more attacks in the coming year as the country tries to boost production following the nuclear deal with world powers.

Iranian Interior Ministry spokesman Salman Samani later denied the claim by the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, which said it bombed the pipelines early Tuesday morning in Khuzestan province.

The militants released online video they said showed one of the pipelines exploding. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the footage, though previous attacks have been attributed to the group.

The separatists' statement said the bombings came in response to Iran's Oil Ministry publishing a list of 29 international companies qualified to bid for projects following the atomic accord.

The group said 2017 will be "very different to previous years since the movement has prepared detailed and precise plans to carry out a number of high-quality important operations against the Iranian enemy state."

Coordinated pipeline attacks could hinder Iran's efforts to recoup cash lost under international sanctions. The country has boosted production to around 3.8 million barrels of oil a day since the deal.

Iran has faced low-level separatist unrest from Kurds in its northwest, the Baluch in its east and Arabs in its south since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In recent months, however, such attacks have grown in scale. Iran in June announced breaking up what it called one of the "biggest terrorist plots" ever on Iranian soil by Sunni extremists.

Tensions also remain high between the Shiite power and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.

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