Blast hits Egypt's gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Blast hits Egypt's gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan

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EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — 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 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 the explosion but 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.

Monday's blast targeted a pumping station at a location 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 security 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 firefighters 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.

In Jordan, Energy Ministry officials said they have been in contact with their Egyptian counterparts to assess the damage and the time needed to repair the gas pipeline.

Egyptian gas supplies to Jordan through the pipeline were expected to double Monday from 50 million cubic feet daily to 100 million cubic feet, according to the official Petra news agency.

In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel "trusts Egyptian authorities to investigate what happened and to ensure such things do not happen again in the future."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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