Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa (C), Bahrain Minister of Interior talks with a member of the emergency services, during his visit to the scene of an explosion, in Bahrain on Saturday. -AP
Saudi Arabia's energy ministry said pumping to Bahrain had been suspended and the kingdom was stepping up security precautions at its own facilities after its Gulf island neighbor blamed "terrorism" linked to Iran for an oil pipeline blast.
Iran denies any role in unrest in Bahrain, host to the US Fifth Fleet and a key Western ally, which has for years grappled with protests and sporadic violence. "The attack on the pipeline ... was followed by the suspension of the pumping of oil to the State of Bahrain," the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources said.
"The Ministry of Energy also confirmed that it has increased its security precautions at all its facilities, and that all these facilities enjoy the highest levels of protection and safety," it added in a statement. Iran has denied allegations it was behind a militant attack on a pipeline outside Bahrain's capital.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency Sunday as rejecting the "baseless and fake claims" and "childish finger-pointing" from Bahraini authorities. Bahrain has been combating a low-level insurgency since the Sunni monarchy quashed a 2011 Arab Spring uprising led by majority Shiites.
Bahrain's interior minister, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, said Saturday's blast was "the latest example of a terrorist act performed by terrorists in direct contact with and under instruction from Iran."
Gulf tensions have intensified in recent days after Sunni-led Saudi Arabia blamed Shiite Iran for a ballistic missile fired by Yemen's Shiite rebels that was intercepted near Riyadh. Iran has denied any involvement.
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