A powerful explosion was reported at a natural gas pipeline that brings gas from Iran to Turkey on Tuesday, March 31, temporarily halting gas flow in the area. According to local media reports, the blast occurred near the city of Agri, close to the Gurbulak border crossing, known as Bazargan on the Iranian side. Both Turkish and Iranian security forces in the border area have attributed the explosion to a deliberate attack by militants belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who have carried out similar attacks in the past. Following the explosion, Turkish border units killed a suspected PKK militant while they were trying to cross the border.
A heightened security presence and an increase in operations are anticipated around Agri over the coming hours and days.
Turkey has faced a Kurdish insurgency since 1984, spearheaded by the PKK, which was renewed in 2015 following the dissolution of a ceasefire. The conflict has left over 40,000 people dead since 1984 and associated violence continues to pose a significant security risk in southeastern Turkey. The Turkish military has increasingly targeted PKK militants outside Turkish borders in recent months and its forces have reportedly killed dozens of PKK militants in northern Iraq since the beginning of their offensive against Kurdish militants in the region in March 2018.
Individuals in the affected area are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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