A bomb blast targeting an important natural gas pipeline between Turkey and Iran in Turkey’s eastern province of Agri on Monday has resulted in the suspension of gas flow, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced.
The explosion took place 15 kilometres away from the Turkish-Iranian border inside Turkish territory, Turkey’s state-owned news agency Anadolu Agency reported.
Energy Minister Yildiz declared the gas flow will be resumed after repairs, and that fire crews were quick to extinguish a fire that had broken out on the pipeline after the attack.
"We have taken measures to meet the natural gas demand in the area. Turkish citizens and industrialists should be at ease," the minister reassured.
While Iran is Turkey’s second-largest gas supplier after Russia, Turkey is the biggest recipient of Iranian gas exports with 10 billion cubic metres per year, accounting for more than 90 percent of exports. This is around a fifth of Turkey’s overall gas imports.
Although no one is yet to proclaim responsibility for the attack, it is highly suspected that the act of sabotage was carried out by the militant group PKK, which recently ended a ceasefire with the Turkish government.
The KCK - the urban branch of the PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish government since 1984 and is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US - has been responsible for a number of attacks in Turkey’s southeast after the group declared the end of a two-year ceasefire on July 11.
Following a bomb attack linked to ISIS on the Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) in the border town of Suruc, which killed 32 people as they prepared to cross into the ISIS-besieged Syrian town of Kobani on the other side of the border to deliver aid, the PKK accused the Turkish authorities of not doing enough to fight against ISIS.
Authorities in Turkey have arrested over 1,000 since the end of the ceasefire, including members of both the PKK and ISIS, as well as the far-left militant group DHKP-C. Turkish fighter jets have also been targeting PKK and ISIS bases in northern Syria and northern Iraq in a bid to clear areas around the Turkish borders from militant threats.
The Turkish military has been empowered by a mandate to conduct cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq to eliminate threats since 2012.