Militants attack Iraq's largest oil refinery

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Volunteers train at military base in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents. Signs emerged Tuesday of a reprisal sectarian slaughter of Sunnis in Iraq, as police said pro-government Shiite militiamen killed nearly four dozen detainees after insurgents tried to storm the jail northeast of Baghdad. (AP Photo/ Jaber al-Helo)

BAGHDAD (AP) — A top security official in Iraq says Islamic militants are attacking the country's largest oil refinery, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad.

The official said fighters of the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began their attack late Tuesday night and it continued into Wednesday morning.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

The Beiji refinery accounts for a little more than a quarter of the country's entire refining capacity — all of which goes toward domestic consumption for things like gasoline, cooking oil and fuel for power stations.

Any lengthy outage at Beiji risks long lines at the gas pump and electricity shortages, adding to the chaos already facing Iraq.