Monday, December 05, 2005

Venezuelans vote for Congress

Venezuelans vote for Congress
CARACAS (Venezuela), Dec 4: Venezuelans voted on Sunday in a congressional election with lawmakers allied to left-wing President Hugo Chavez looked set to sweep most seats after the main opposition parties boycotted the poll.

Hours before voting began, an oil pipeline in the west of the country was damaged by a small blast the government branded a sabotage attack on the world's fifth-largest oil exporter.

"This is a miserable terrorist attack," Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel told state television.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said the explosion at a pipeline supplying the country's huge Amuay-Cardon refinery had not affected fuel supplies or exports and that firefighters had controlled a subsequent fire and oil spill.

The damaged pipeline carried 150,000 barrels per day to the refinery, state news agency ABN said. Authorities said the explosion was caused by a home-made pipe bomb, but they stopped short of directly accusing Chavez opponents, blaming only "radical groups."

Chavez, a former army officer opposed to Washington, has accused US officials of orchestrating the boycott to trigger a political crisis. - Reuters


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