The main gas pipeline south of the town of Al-Arish was bombed for the 27th time at dawn on Tuesday. The authorities announced a state of alert at all entry points leading to the town in search for the unidentified perpetrators, state-run news agency MENA reported.
Civil Protection Forces were able to contain the fire, and officials from major natural gas companies in the area moved to the bombing site to close gas valves.
Eight unidentified gunmen are suspected to have carried out the operation using two vehicles, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram said Tuesday.
Unverified online reports speculated that members of the militant group ‘State of Sinai,’ formerly Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, were behind the incident. Social media accounts claiming affiliation with the militants also claimed the attack, though the group’s main Twitter account, which typically substantiates claims with video or photo evidence, has so far not released any statements.
No casualties were reported in Tuesday’s attacks. The authorities have yet to announce details about the explosion’s consequences on gas provision to industrial areas, as well as the gas exporting line to Jordan.
The Arab Gas Pipeline, which links Port Said to Al-Arish to the port of Aqaba, in Jordan, became a target for Sinai-based militant groups after the 2011 revolution in Egypt.
Egypt’s gas exports to Jordan dropped dramatically in 2014 as a result of repeated bombings of the pipeline.
A separate branch of the Arab Gas Pipeline connecting Al-Arish to the Israeli port of Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean Sea, has been closed since 2012.
Tuesday’s bombing did not affect the Rafah border crossing operation. Mohamed Hussein, an Al-Arish-based reporter, confirmed to Daily News Egypt on Tuesday that Egyptian authorities have decided to keep the crossing open for a third day, from 9 am to 4 pm.
The border was also open on Sunday and Monday, allowing the movement of people and goods between Gaza and Egypt, as well as the deportation of 52 Palestinian migrants who had been detained at sea in Egyptian coastal waters while allegedly attempting to reach Europe.
Medics have also been able to provide supplies and equipment to the Palestinian side, including Algerian aid convoys carrying up to 100 tons of medical supplies, in coordination with the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERS), according to ERS chairman Gaber Al-Araby’s statements to MENA Monday.