Gunmen bomb Egypt gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan

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By Hatem El-Buluk

Al-ARISH: A group of unidentified gunmen bombed early Monday a gas pipeline through which Egypt exports to Jordan and Israel, the third attempt to blow up the gas station since February.

North Sinai Governor Al-Sayed Abdel Wahab Mabrouk said the explosion took place at 1 am on Monday when unknown gunmen got out of a car and planted a time bomb beneath the station’s main supply tube in the Bir Al-Abd area, according to eyewitnesses.

Mabrouk condemned the attack confirming that this attempt to stop the production cycle affected the gas supply to cement factories, including Egypt’s armed forces factories and Sinai factories, in addition to the power station and residential areas in Al-Arish.

Investigations are ongoing, he said, adding that no injuries were reported at the station, which is at a distance from residential areas.

The explosion occurred inside Chamber 2 but security officials said that another bomb was found in Chamber 3 at the same station, which was quickly defused.

Eyewitnesses said the gunmen were the same as those behind the two blasts earlier this year, using the same truck and the same technique.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official on Monday dismissed fears of power cuts as a result of the bomb attack.

“At the moment there is no supply of gas from Egypt,” national infrastructures ministry spokeswoman Maya Etzioni told AFP.

“[But] we are prepared, as always, with alternative solutions, with alternative supplies. There’s gas from Yam Thetis,” she said in reference to an Israeli offshore gas field.

Egypt supplies about 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which is used to generate electricity. After the February attack, Israel allowed power stations to use fuel oil or coal in order to avoid blackouts and a drop in the production of electricity.

Israeli security sources said they received intelligence about 10 days ago that “a global Jihadist group” was planning to hit the Sinai pipeline, but added it was too early to say if the organization, which they did not name, was behind Monday’s attack.

The two previous attacks were believed to be the work of disgruntled Bedouins in northern Sinai during the mass protests which toppled the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak, they said.

This time, however, the attackers were believed to have come from the Gaza Strip, they said, without elaborating.

Although Yam Thetis is nearing depletion Israel is accelerating efforts to bring its Tamar and Leviathan fields online and last week an Israeli energy company said it had discovered two more offshore fields.

An April 27 attack on the pipeline in Al-Sabil area of north Sinai cut off international gas supplies. In February, attackers blew up a section of the pipeline in the town of Lihfren, also in north Sinai, near the Gaza Strip.

A fourth attempt to attack the pipeline in March failed. –Additional reporting by AFP.




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