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Kuwait increases security around oil facilities

Special to World
Friday, March 7, 2003

ABU DHABI Kuwait has bolstered security around oil facilities to protect against Iraqi sabotage attacks.

The security measures were imposed by the state-owned Kuwaiti Oil Corp. The corporation is responsible for the sheikdom's oil facilities and production.

Kuwaiti officials said the the corporation has launched emergency plans in coordination with the Defense Ministry to protect the oil facilities.

They said the threat assessments include an Iraqi missile attack or sabotage.

On Thursday, Kuwait announced the arrest of five people, all but one of them Kuwaitis, and the seizure of a large amount of weapons and ammunition.

An Interior Ministry statement termed the detainees "extremists" and said they had undergone weapons training. Kuwaiti sources described the suspects as members of Al Qaida.

[In Washington, the U.S. Defense Department said it has drafted plans to quickly respond to any sabotage by the regime of President Saddam Hussein on Iraqi oil fields. The Pentagon said the plan would include the deployment of U.S. troops to capture and protect the oil fields from any attack by Saddam.]

Last month, Kuwait closed several oil facilities near the Iraqi border to protect against an Iraqi attack. Officials said the sheikdom has not taken out a special insurance policy on its oil installations as part of war preparations.

"Some fields will be shut down," Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ahmed Fahd Al Sabah said on Thursday.

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