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Russia Cuts Gas To Armenia After Pipeline Mined


MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia halted gas supplies to ally Armenia after bombs were found under a pipeline in the volatile southern region of Ingushetia, but Armenia said today it had enough reserves to supply consumers.

Police today defused two bombs and searched the area for other explosive devices, after the Mozdok-Tbilisi pipeline was shut down late on December 13, a police official in Ingushetia told Reuters. He said the area has now been cleared.

Officials were working to restore the flow of gas in the pipeline which also serves customers in Russia's North Ossetia and Ingushetia regions, an official in local gas firm Ingushneftegaz said.

Armenia gets around 2 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia, but customers were not affected, said Shushanik Sardaryan a spokeswoman for ArmRosGazprom, a subsidiary of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom.

"We will use gas from our storage facilities until the restoration of supplies," she said.

Supplies of Russian gas to its ex-Soviet neighbors have been disrupted at various times in recent years by security scares and by political disputes.

Russia cut supplies to parts of the European Union last winter during a pricing dispute with Ukraine. Russia's Gazprom stopped buying gas from Turkmenistan in April after a pipeline explosion sparked a broader diplomatic row over gas.

The mainly Muslim region of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, has seen a surge in attacks in recent months blamed on Islamist rebels who have promised to attack economic targets.

Georgia, which also receives gas from the pipeline, has not been affected by the cut, a spokeswoman for the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation told Interfax news agency.