Monday, January 10, 2005

Staff stay away from work at Sui gas installations

Staff stay away from work at Sui gas installations

Residents evacuating colonies as tension mounts

By our correspondent

QUETTA: Several workers of the Sui gas field stayed away from their work, while residents started evacuating colonies on Sunday because of the mounting tension following rocket attacks on gas installations in Sui for two consecutive nights, officials said on Sunday.

"The officers and the workers of the company are extremely agitated and a number of them are leaving Sui, as the rocket firing incidents has whipped up a lot of tension and sagged the morale in the field," a spokesman for the Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) said.

The spokesman said that an FC Jawan was killed and three others, including a girl living in a colony outside the fenced area, were injured in the heavy firing by unknown terrorists for the last two nights.

The spokesman said rockets and small arm fire from different directions targeted the Sui gas field on the night of January 7. Approximately 114 rockets were fired in two-and-a-half hours, besides firing with automatic weapons. "The rockets and bullets hit the gas pipeline, watch towers, offices, residences and workshop building. They triggered huge fires at a number of places and caused damage to the buildings, equipment and vehicles," the statement added.

The next night about 8.45pm, the spokesman said, the terrorists again started indiscriminate firing from different directions and rockets and bullets rained on the field. "The firing, this time, continued till 11.50pm and the damage caused by more than 100 rockets and automatic fire was tremendous."

The rockets hit the residence of the acting manager but he and his family escaped miraculously. Two rooms in a junior executives’ mess and the Wapda’s dehydration plant were also hit, triggering fire. Several personnel of the company had a narrow escape. Electricity supply to almost half of the field was disrupted and the PTCL exchange became non-functional, the official added. The PPL said it was in touch with both the federal and provincial governments regarding the security situation in Sui.

"Both governments are taking necessary measures for safety of the installations and security of the personnel. The company, on its part, is making all possible efforts to ensure continued supply of gas from Sui," the statement added.

AP adds: A woman died at a hospital of the injuries she had sustained after she was hit by rocket shrapnel landing in a village near the gas installations, said Noor Ahmed, a local police official. Fourteen others were injured, two of them seriously.

The attack came after a woman and her two children were killed on Friday when assailants fired rockets and rifles on the PPL facility in Sui. A man, Mir Azad Baluch, claiming to speak for the little-known Balochistan Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the Saturday’s assault in telephone calls to newspaper offices in Quetta.

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