Iran said it has resumed supplying natural gas to Turkey five days after an explosion damaged a pipeline between the two countries, state media reported.
“After Turkey announced it has finished repairing the pipeline, the export of 15 to 20 million cubic metres (525 to 700 cubic feet) of gas daily has resumed,” Iranian National Gas official Hassan Torbati was quoted as saying by the state television news website.
Monday’s early morning blast, the cause of which remains unknown, occurred 13 kilometres (eight miles) from the Iranian border in the eastern province of Agri, Turkey’s state-run BOTAS gas company said in a statement.
Militants from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have sabotaged gas and oil pipelines in the region in the past as part of their 23-year armed campaign for self-rule in mainly Kurdish east and southeast Turkey.
Turkey has bought Iranian gas via the pipeline from the northwestern city of Tabriz to Ankara since December 2001 in a deal that raised eyebrows in the United States.
Before Monday’s explosion Iran supplied Turkey with 29 million cubic metres of gas a day.
Meanwhile a Revolutionary Guards commander in northwestern Iran was quoted by Fars news agency on Saturday as saying that the man who blew up the gas pipeline was killed in a firefight with Iranian forces several days ago.
“In recent days we inflicted heavy losses on bandits in the area and in one fight we killed a group of seven, among them the notorious bandit behind the attack on the Iranian-Turkish gas pipeline,” Mohammad Taghi Osanlou was quoted as saying.
He identified the man as Hatm Bakhlan Lou, nicknamed “Bald Hatm,” but did not elaborate.
A week ago the conservative Jomhouri Eslami newspaper reported that nine Kurdish rebels, including five women, were killed in clashes with police in Western Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran bordering Turkey and Iraq.
It said the rebels belonged to “the armed wing of the terrorist group” Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which has close links to the PKK.