Saboteurs blew up an oil pipeline in southern Iraq early Saturday, the latest attack targeting the country's crucial oil industry, police and oil officials said.

Firefighters struggled to put out the blaze caused by the explosion near Hartha, 19 miles north of Basra, said police Maj. Col. Nouri Mohammed.

A South Oil Co. official said on condition of anonymity that technicians were forced to close the pipeline, which carries 15,000 barrels of crude a day from the Nahran Omar (search) oilfields to an export storage tank called Zubayr-1 in the Faw peninsula.

Insurgents have launched repeated attacks on Iraq's vital oil industry in a bid to undermine the interim government and reconstruction efforts.