Jul 11, 8:30 AM EDT

Iraqi Kurds take over 2 northern oil fields


AP Photo
AP Photo/Karim Kadim
World Video

Multimedia
Last U.S. combat troop leaves Iraq
Iraqi Election 2010: What's at Stake?
Returning Troops Find Alternative Motivations
U.S. Troop Casualties in Iraq
Related Stories
Iraqi Kurds take over 2 northern oil fields

UN agency: Seized Iraq nuclear material is no risk

UN: no danger from stolen nuke material in Iraq

Turkey calls on Islamic militants to release Turks

Iraq: 'Terrorists' seize ex-chemical weapons site

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Interactive
Iraqi Communities in the U.S.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Kurdish security forces took over two major oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk before dawn Friday, the Oil Ministry said, the latest move in a deepening a dispute with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said Kurdish troops known as peshmerga also expelled the local workers from the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields. He declared the takeover "a violation to the constitution" and warned that it poses "a threat to national unity."

There was no immediate comment from authorities in the Kurdish self-rule region of northern Iraq.

The already difficult relationship between the Kurds and Iraq's central government has sharply deteriorated in recent days. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused the Kurds of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country over the past month. A day later, authorities suspended all cargo flights to the Kurdish region's two main airports.

The Kurds have responded by declaring their politicians will boycott Cabinet meetings and renewing demands that al-Maliki step down. The seizure of the two oil fields, however, is a decidedly bigger step, and could signal a quicker unraveling of relations between the Kurds and al-Maliki.

---

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.