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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq's Basra, three hurt

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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq's Basra, three hurt

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – A rocket struck the site of the residential and operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including U.S. giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding three people, Iraq’s military said.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility. It came after two separate attacks in as many days on bases housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq, as tension rose between the United States and Iran.

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The rocket hit the Burjesia site west of the city, according to police and a statement released by the military. Police earlier said two Iraqi workers were wounded

The United States evacuated hundreds of diplomatic staff from its Baghdad embassy last month, citing unspecified threats from Iran against U.S. interests in neighboring Iraq, where Tehran supports some Shi’ite militias

Wednesday’s incident came just as Exxon staff who were also evacuated after the diplomats’ departure had begun to return to Basra

A security source said Exxon was evacuating 21 foreign staff immediately by plane to Dubai

Oil officials said operations including exports from southern Iraq were not affected by the incident

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy’s Eni SpA, the oil officials said

The rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile, the military said. Police said it landed 100 meters from the part of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni

Washington has ramped up sanctions pressure on Iran in recent months and says it has sent additional forces to the region over tension with the Islamic Republic

It blames Tehran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Tehran denies it was involved

Both sides say they do not want war, but analysts warn such incidents could escalate violence in the region

Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by John Davison and Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jan Harvey