ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A group of gunmen on Friday attacked the headquarters of a Malaysian oil firm in southeastern Iraq, accusing the company of causing earthquakes in the area.
The incident occurred overnight at a protection point belonging to the Petronas oil company which operates in the Gharraf oil field located in Rifai, north of Nasiriyah.
In a statement released on Saturday, local police said the gunmen used light weapons before firing an RPG rocket at the company’s checkpoint.
No casualties were reported.
A 4.4-degree earthquake recently hit Rifai causing damage to residents’ property including their homes.
Rumors circulating among people in the area alleged the main cause for successive earthquakes in Rifai was due to oil exploration at the Gharraf field.
Dhi Qar Province police chief Hassan al-Zaidi said he believed the attack was a response to the frequent tremors in the region.
According to Zaidi, the suspects were driving a vehicle while carrying out the attack, causing minor damage to the Malaysian company’s oil stalls.
Kurdistan 24 could not reach Petronas for comment.
In 2010, Petronas and Japan’s Japex signed a contract with the Iraqi Oil Ministry to develop the Gharraf field in the mainly Shia province of Dhi Qar.
About two months ago, dozens of residents in Rifai organized a protest demanding a special team investigated the cause of earthquakes in the region.
The geologists who visited the province after the demonstration concluded the frequent tremors were caused by the elimination of a seismic line in the Rifai district.
Experts said the main cause of the earthquakes was the merging of the Arab plate with the Persian plate and found no connection to oil exploration.