( dpa ) - A major fire, possibly caused by an explosion, was spreading at a large oil refinery to the west of the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday, a local official said.
"An act of sabotage is likely to have caused a big fire at the Shuaiba refinery west of Basra in the early hours of Tuesday," a local official told the Voices of Iraq news agency.
The fire, which started at two units producing gasoline and spread to other parts of the refinery, is likely to have been caused by explosives or Katyusha rockets, the official said.
Firefighting vehicles and civil defence units converged on the scene from all over Basra province.
Shuaiba refinery - the largest in the south of Iraq - has been frequently targeted by insurgents, who are seeking to disrupt Iraq's efforts to restore oil production to full capacity.
Frequent attacks on oil installations in the north and south, causing power cuts and chronic fuel shortages, have prompted the Iraqi government to purchase fuel products from its neighbours in Kuwait and Iran.