August 26, 2011 / 8:33 AM / in 6 years

Iraqi officials say rockets land in Iraq, not Kuwait

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Three rockets fired in Iraq’s southern oil port city of Basra landed inside Iraq and were not aimed at Kuwait or the disputed Mubarak port, an Iraqi official said on Friday.

Iraqi policemen inspect the site of a bomb attack in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) south of Baghdad August 25, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

Ali al-Maliki, head of the Basra provincial council’s security committee, said the rockets were aimed at the former U.S. prison camp Bucca and had a range of only one kilometre.

“The rockets targeted the (former) Bucca prison building, which is used by foreign companies,” Maliki told Reuters.

“Security forces managed to seize the vehicle which was used to launch the rockets.”

Basra police spokesman Colonel Kareem al-Zaidi also denied any rockets had been fired at Kuwait’s Mubarak port.

Iraq has voiced anger over the $1.1 billion (673.4 million pounds) port being built by Kuwait on Bubiyan Island, saying it interferes with shipping lanes to its own ports.

Shi‘ite militia in southern Iraq warned earlier this year they would attack Kuwait if it insisted on building the port.

Maliki said it was unclear who was behind the firing of the rockets and said an investigation had been launched.

Al Arabiya TV reported early on Friday that three rockets had hit the border area between Kuwait and Iraq, quoting diplomatic sources.

The pro-Gaddafi TV channel Al Orouba reported the rockets had targeted Kuwait’s Mubarak port, which is under construction and has been the subject of arguments between oil-producing Iraq and Kuwait, which share a small border.

Dubai-based Al Arabiya said the Katyusha rockets did not target the port.

A Kuwaiti security source told Reuters he heard attackers from Iraq had launched three rockets at 00:30 a.m on Friday which landed on Iraqi territory without reaching Kuwait.

On Thursday, Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA reported that a Foreign Ministry official denied Iraq had summoned the Kuwaiti ambassador in Baghdad and handed him a protest message over the building of the Mubarak port in Kuwait.

The official said the Mubarak port was being built on Kuwaiti territories and the dispute with Iraq over it was being handled through official contacts between the two countries.

Kuwait was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1990 and a shaky relationship has continued even since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam in 2003.

Additional reporting by Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad, Martina Fuchs in Dubai and Sami Aboudi in Cairo; Writing by Martina Fuchs and Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Jon Hemming

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