Iran official says pipeline blast caused by ‘sabotage’

TEHRAN — A large explosion at Iran’s main energy pipeline hub Friday was caused by sabotage, an influential member of Parliament said Sunday.

The blast, which sent balls of fire into the air outside the Shiite religious center of Qom, targeted three major gas pipelines. The explosion comes amid an increase in mysterious blasts, assassinations and other incidents in the Islamic Republic, including a similar blast Feb. 11 that temporarily halted north-south gas transportation in the country. All pipelines are now back in operation, officials say.

Parviz Sorouri, a member of the National Security Commission, called for increased protection of Iran’s oil and gas pipelines. He also announced a meeting of key ministries to safeguard the Islamic Republic’s energy transportation systems.

“Terrorist groups have sabotaged gas transfer pipelines in Qom province in order to create insecurity in the energy transfer path of the country,” Sorouri told the semi-official Mehr news agency. He did not provide further details about who may have been responsible for Friday’s explosion.

Iranian officials have connected the past year’s incidents to actions by foreign-backed terrorist groups or to unexplained accidents. Iran’s leaders blamed the United States, Britain and Israel for two separate high-profile assassinations of scientists in Tehran last year. But a major explosion at a Revolutionary Guards base near the city of Khorramabad in October t… >>>

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