An explosion on a major gas pipeline near Iraq’s northern oil centre, Kirkuk, has crippled production at the country’s newest and largest oil refinery.

南宁桑拿

An explosive device has been confirmed as the cause of the blast that created a massive fire visible from 30 kilometres away.

The blast has left Baiji refinery without sufficient power to maintain its normal production of up to 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, two US soldiers were killed in Mosul, northern Iraq.

The two soldiers belonging to the 101st Airborne Division were on patrol in the city when they were attacked.

There are conflicting reports as to how the men were killed.

Eyewitnesses have claimed the two soldiers were ambushed in a vehicle and had their throats slit.

A US military statement said they were “shot while en route from one compound to another in the city”, while not specifying if the men died from gunshot wounds.

A military investigation will be carried out.

When questioned about the deaths, coalition military spokesman Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said it would be “ghoulish” and inappropriate to discuss the matter.

“In the interest of the families and with respect to human dignity, there will be no further elaboration on this incident pending notification of next of kin and completion of the investigation,” he said.

Two American Democrats senators, Tom Daschle and Joseph Biden, have responded to the latest deaths in Iraq with calls for more US troops to be deployed.

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