05 February 2011

Egypt crisis:'Terrorists' Attack Egypt-Israel Gas Pipeline

Egyptian officials blamed "terrorists" for an explosion which tore into a gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, and sent flames towering into the sky near the Gaza Strip.

The governor of the region, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected "sabotage", but provided no details.
State television quoted an official as saying that the "situation is very dangerous and explosions were continuing from one spot to another" along the pipeline.
Last week, Egypt reinforced the Sinai peninsular with two battalions of troops to protect tourists at Red Sea resorts and to support police who continue to help Israel maintain the long standing siege on Gaza, home to a million Palestinians.
Israel has a 15-year contract to import gas from Egypt worth billions - but the deal, signed in 2008, has been unpopular with many Egyptians.
The fire after the explosion could be seen 44 miles away
The massive fire following the explosion could be seen from 44 miles away
Last week, the main Egyptian shareholder in pipeline company EMG, Hussein Salem, was reported to have fled Cairo on one of 19 private jets which carried wealthy Egyptians to Dubai.
The Sinai Peninsula, home to Bedouin tribesmen, has been the scene of clashes between residents and security forces because tribesmen complain that they are missing out on development opportunities.
The explosion went off early Saturday at a gas terminal in the northern Sinai town of el-Arish, several hundred yards away from the local airport.
Mr Mabrouk told Egypt's Nile News TV that the fire was brought under control by mid-morning, after valves allowing the flow of gas from the terminal into pipelines were shut off.
At this stage, the gas supply to Israel was stopped according to procedure in emergency scenarios
Chen Ben Lulu, spokesman for Israel's infrastructure ministry
The pipeline attacked was carrying gas to Jordan but Israel temporarily shut down, officials said, as "a precaution".
Jordan said gas supplies from Egypt were expected to remain halted for a week until the pipeline was repaired.
A Jordanian energy source said the kingdom had switched power generating stations to burning fuel oil and diesel as a precaution, after the cut-off of the Egyptian supply.
The blaze shooting vertically in the air was visible from rooftops of homes next to the Gaza-Egypt border, about 44 miles away.
The pipelines transport gas from Egypt's Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Israel and Jordan and supplies about 25% of the gas used to generate Israel’s electrical power.
The explosion and fire occurred near pipelines to Israel and Jordan
The fire occurred near gas branch lines to Jordan and Israel
"At this stage, the gas supply to Israel was stopped according to procedure in emergency scenarios," Chen Ben Lulu, spokesman of Israel's Infrastructure Ministry, said.
"We are not sure what caused the explosion."
If the explosion is the result of terrorism it comes as Israelis watch events anxiously in Cairo where a change of regime, many believe, could undermine Israel’s 30-year peace treaty with the Jewish state’s neighbour.
Last week, dozens of alleged Hamas activists held in Egyptian jails escaped amid the chaos and are believed to have made their way back into Gaza through secret smuggling tunnels.
Some may have stayed behind to embarrass the embattled Egyptian government.
Source: Sky News