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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Koran riot grips Yemeni gas plant
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Security forces have been called in to tackle riots at a Yemen gas plant where a copy of the Koran is said to have been desecrated, security sources say.

Unrest began after a French engineer at the terminal in the south-eastern port of Belhaf allegedly "defiled" the book.

Hundreds of rioting workers burnt cars and a helicopter at the French-run facility, sources told news agencies.

Unconfirmed reports say four Yemenis and a Frenchman were injured in the unrest and the engineer was evacuated.

Yemen LNG, which is partly owned by the Yemeni government, confirmed that clashes had taken place but only spoke of "undefined damage", according to a press release reported by The Associated Press.

"After a fight between a French engineer and another who is Yemeni, the Frenchman - to enrage the Yemeni - threw a Koran on the floor in an offensive way," a local official told AFP news agency, requesting anonymity.

The same agency said earlier that a Yemeni had been killed in the unrest.

Yemen LNG is both building the Belhaf terminal, a natural gas liquefaction plant, and a 320-km (199-mile) pipeline to connect it to gas processing facilities located farther inland.

French energy giant Total is the leading foreign partner in the project.

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