Unidentified gunmen have attacked and blown up a section of an Egyptian pipeline carrying natural gas to neighboring Israel and Jordan, marking the thirteenth such attack on the pipeline after the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising.
According to Egyptian officials, the gas pipeline was attacked near the town of al-Arish north of the Sinai desert Monday evening. Witness say plumes of thick black smoke and fire from the explosion-hit pipeline could be seen from as far as 30 miles away.
Monday's explosion reportedly happened near the section of the pipeline that was blown up by militants last month. Following that attack, gas supplies to Jordan and Israel were restored only about three days ago.
Egypt, which is estimated to have natural gas reserves of about 62 trillion cubic feet, exports gas to Israel and Jordan. While Jordan depends on Egyptian gas for generating almost 80 per cent of its electricity, about 40 per cent of Israel's gas requirements are met by Egypt.
However, Egypt's current military rulers have indicated that they would soon re-consider supplying gas to Israel and Jordan at previously agreed prices. The move came amid allegations that the toppled Mubarak regime had conspired with a local businessman to sell gas to Israel at reduced rates with the intention of defrauding the exchequer of several millions of dollars.
The developments come just over a year after Mubarak was forced to step down from office on February 11, 2011, following mass protests across the country against his 30-year rule, handing over control of the country to the military.
Mubarak, his two sons and about a dozen former Ministers and businessmen with links to the ousted regime have since been detained and are facing investigations over a number of allegations ranging from corruption and money laundering to abuse of authority and squandering state wealth.
by RTT Staff Writer
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