Blast hits Egypt's gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan

By Ashraf Sweilam

Associated Press

Published: Monday, July 4 2011 3:15 a.m. MDT

Flames rise after an explosion near the town of El-Arish, Egypt, 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the border with Israel, early Monday, July 4, 2011. Unidentified assailants blew up the Egyptian pipeline that carries gas to Israel and Jordan early on Monday, starting a fire and disrupting the flow of the gas, security officials said. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

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EL-ARISH, Egypt — Masked assailants blew up the Egyptian pipeline that carries gas to Israel and Jordan early on Monday, starting a fire that burned for hours and disrupting the flow of the gas, security officials said.

The blast targeted a pumping station at a location of about 65 miles (100 kilometers) south of the Mediterranean coastal city of El-Arish in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

El-Arish is 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Israel's border.

The officials said the attackers, armed with assault rifles, arrived in two pickup trucks without number plates and forced the three security guards on duty to leave before placing the explosives and shooting the pipeline's valves to release the gas.

The explosion triggered a blaze that took firemen at least seven hours to extinguish, they said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said there were no casualties.

Monday's blast was the third to hit the strategic pipeline since an uprising overthrew Egypt's longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in February.

No one claimed responsibility for Monday's explosion. Disgruntled Bedouin tribesmen in the area have been blamed for attacking the pipeline in the past. Islamists opposed to Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel have also been suspected.

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