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WikiLeaks lists sites U.S. says vital to interests Add to ...

Website WikiLeaks published details of sites around the globe which the United States deems vital to its interests, prompting criticism that it is helping militants identify targets for attack.

The details are part of 250,000 diplomatic cables obtained by the campaigning website which are being made public.

The list begins with a cobalt mine in Kinshasa, Congo and refers to various locations in Europe where drug companies produce insulin, treatment for snake bites and foot and mouth vaccines.

In the Middle East, it notes that Qatar will be the largest source of imported liquified natural gas (LNG) by 2012 and also refers to the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, the largest crude oil process and stabilisation plant in the world.

Al Qaeda mounted an unsuccessful attack on Abqaiq in 2006 and there were warnings that the WikiLeaks cable setting out so many sensitive targets could help militants.

Former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind accused WikiLeaks of being "generally irresponsible, bordering on criminal."

"This is the kind of information terrorists are interested in knowing," he told The Times newspaper.

Professor Richard Aldrich of Warwick University in central England said it had the potential to help militants find soft targets.

"Essentially what it says to terrorists is at the moment you are attacking highly defended targets of relatively low value, what you could be doing is attacking high value targets that are relatively weakly defended," he told BBC News.

"So it's the overall message which has the potential to change the pattern of a number of terrorists groups around the world," he added.

The cable sets out details of facilities whose loss could impact the public health, economic or national security of the United States. It was drawn up after the State Department last year asked U.S. missions abroad for a list of such sites.

It refers to places where undersea communications cables reach land and energy routes including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline which runs from Azerbaijan to Turkey.

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