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Angry Shi'ites Storm Schlumberger Camp at Iraq's Rumaila Oilfield

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Reuters

BASRA, Iraq, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Dozens of angry Shi'ite Muslim workers and tribesmen stormed a Schlumberger Ltd camp at one of Iraq's main oilfields and wrecked offices early on Monday after accusing a foreign security adviser of insulting their religion, police and employees at the field said.

Oil officials and workers at the Schlumberger drilling site in Rumaila North said the problem started when a security adviser they identified as British asked Iraqi workers to take down a flag and banners depicting a figure revered by Shi'ites.

Schlumberger was not immediately available for comment late on Monday.

According to workers and officials, when the workers refused to remove the banners, the security adviser went to do so himself and tore one portraying Imam Hussein, whose death more than 1,000 years ago is currently being commemorated by Shi'ites across the world in rituals known as Ashura.

In the ensuing row, the security adviser pulled out a gun and fired several shots, wounding an Iraqi worker and drawing dozens of people from a nearby village to join the workers in storming the Schlumberger drilling camp.

Officials of the state-run Southern Oil Company said production from the field was not affected by the incident, but oil officials said Schlumberger had suspended its operations in response, not only in Rumaila but at the other oilfields in Basra province.

"We received an order from the main administration to stop work until further notice," said an Iraqi engineer working at a Schlumberger project in Zubair oilfield in the south.


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