'Terror attack on Egypt-Israel gas pipeline in El-Arish'

ByJPOST.COM STAFF, ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 5, 2011 09:58

Egyptian state tv reports masked men set off detonation at gas terminal near pipeline in Sinai causing massive flames; gas supply to Israel cut.




Gas pipeline explosion in El-Arish, Egypt

Gas Pipeline Blast 311. (photo credit:Associated Press)

A group of masked men set off a detonation at a gas terminal near the Israel-Egypt gas pipeline in El-Arish, Egypt in the northern Sinai early on Saturday morning, setting off a massive fire along the pipeline, Egyptian state television reported.

Residents say they heard the sound of an explosion, and that massive flames shot into the air. Egyptian state television referred to the incident as a "terrorist" attack.

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The governor of the region, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected "sabotage," but provided no details.

Flames raged at the scene for three hours before they were successfully put out, Al-Jazeera reported.


No injuries were reported in the incident.

The flow of gas through the pipeline to Israel has been cut off temporarily following the explosions.

Israeli officials said it was not clear whether the explosion affected the pipeline leading to Israel.

"At this stage, the gas supply to Israel was stopped according to procedure in emergency scenarios," said Chen Ben Lulu, spokesman of Israel's Infrastructure Ministry. "We are not sure what caused the explosion."

The pipelines transport gas from Egypt's Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Israel and Jordan. The gas pipeline to Jordan was damaged in the blast, according to Israel Radio.

The Prime Minister's Office stated that "Israel is prepared for stoppages in the gas supply from Egypt and has immediate access to alternative sources of energy."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau on Saturday to discuss the explosion and the subsequent cutting off of the gas supply through the pipeline.

The Infrastructure Ministry does not foresee problems with the country's electricity supply as a result of the explosion.

Israel Radio reported that security on the country's energy facilities has been increased in the aftermath of the El-Arish incident.

Egyptian security sources blamed "foreign elements" for the attack, Reuters reported. Security forces in the area were on high alert in the aftermath of the attack.

The gas pipeline has come under attack in the past.

Beduin tribesmen of the Sinai Peninsula attempted to blow up the pipeline last July as tensions intensified between them and the Egyptian government, which they accuse of discrimination and of ignoring their plight.

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