Times 2

Iraq's largest oil refinery shut by bombing

BAGHDAD, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Iraq's largest oil refinery was shut down on Saturday after militants carried out a bomb attack and set it on fire, the governor of Salahuddin province said.

The militants killed four people and planted bombs at production units for kerosene and benzene at the refinery in the town of Baiji, a former al Qaeda stronghold about 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, Governor Ahmed al-Jubouri said.

“There is a big fire in the refinery and the refinery has completely stopped,” Jubouri told Reuters.
Overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the peak of sectarian conflict in 2006-07, but attacks still occur on a daily basis.

The Baiji refinery was controlled for a long time by al Qaeda militants, who used it to finance the insurgency. The refinery normally operates at 70 percent of its capacity and produces 11 million litres of gasoline, 7 million litres of benzene and 4.5 million litres of kerosene a day.

Bush cancels conference visit over Assange invite

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Former U.S. president George W. Bush on Friday cancelled a scheduled appearance at a business leaders' conference in Denver after learning that organizers also invited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks and Assange, who is under house arrest in Britain while he fights extradition to Sweden in a sexual misconduct case, have drawn the ire of U.S. officials by leaking hundreds of thousands of secret government documents.

“Upon learning that Julian Assange had recently been invited to address the same summit, President Bush decided to cancel his appearance,” Bush spokesman David Sherzer said in a statement.

Assange also will not attend the summit, according to Geoffrey Robertson, a British lawyer helping represent him in his extradition battle. Assange was granted bail in December on condition he stay at a country estate north of London.

The U.S. Justice Department is conducting an investigation of the WikiLeaks leaks, though officials and legal experts say it would be difficult to bring a successful criminal prosecution against Assange for the leaks.

Assange has defended the leaks and has also denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, where authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest to face interrogation in the sexual abuse case.

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