Speaking to Reuters, Mahdi Askar, manager at the state-owned General Company for Maritime Transport said shipping movements and unloading operations “were not disrupted by the explosion.”
According to the Iraqi authorities, a Volvo truck with an Iraqi license plate exploded next to a sugar-carrying general cargo ship berthed at Pier 17, injuring four and causing structural damage to the ship. The attack is suspected to have been perpetrated by the Al-Qaeda-linked fundamentalist group Islamic State of Iraq, as part of an attempt to disrupt Iraqi infrastructure.
“This is the first time Iraqi ports have been targeted since 2003,” said Susan Al-Saaidi of the Iraqi parliament’s Energy and Oil Committee, speaking to Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. “There is a weakness in the security plan for the protection of vital installations in Basra, especially since intelligence was given to the security forces days before warning that the Umm Qasr port was a target, as were a number of other border points.
“The danger could include Iraqi oil pipelines and installations in Basra, and yet we have not seen any action by the security forces on this information.”
Jawad Al-Bazzouni, an MP for the Basra region, postulated that if the attack is proven not to have been Al-Qaeda, political parties may be behind the attack “in an attempt to control [Iraqi Ports], in order to cover up corruption.”
“Someone has definitely facilitated the truck’s entry into the port after being paid,” he said, “and this is the best proof of the prevalence of corruption in Iraqi ports. Basra and its reputation will be damaged by this, and it will also have a negative effect on the Iraqi economy.”