Probe Finds Sinai Pipeline Blast Was Caused by Bomb

Sinai security sources says 'foreign elements' targeted pipe that supplies Jordan; supplies to Israel were halted as a precaution.

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The chief investigator into the gas terminal explosion in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula says it was caused by four masked gunmen who set off a bomb.

Saboteurs blew up a natural pipeline that runs through Egypt's northern Sinai, Egypt state television reported on Saturday, disrupting flow to Israel and Jordan after Islamist groups called on militants to exploit the unrest that has rocked the government.

Judge Abdel Nasser el-Tayeb said in a report on Monday that the terminal's guards testified that the men stormed the terminal in two cars, briefly restrained the guards and then set off the explosives by remote control.

Egypt's natural gas company on Saturday had blamed the blast on a gas leak. The terminal is part of a pipeline system that transports gas from Egypt's Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Israel, Syria, and Jordan.

Flames rise from a gas pipeline attack, carried about by unknown saboteurs, as Egyptians gather in the northern Sinai in February this year. Credit: AFP

The attack happened as demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak entered their 12th day, with no sign of an end to the confrontation that has pitted the 82-year-old leader against thousands of anti-government protesters.

"Saboteurs took advantage of the security situation and blew up the gas pipeline," a state television correspondent said.

Following the explosion, Israel Radio said, quoting sources in the consortium overseeing imports, that the blast did not target supplies to Israel but they had been halted as a precaution.

Israel gets 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt, a deal built on their landmark 1979 peace accord.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement assuring that Israel would not suffer from power cuts due to the halt of gas supply.

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