Egypt: Militants blow up gas pipeline in Sinai

Officials say the explosion took place early Tuesday in a desert area south of el-Arish

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Egyptian security officials say suspected al-Qaida-inspired militants have blown up a natural gas pipeline in the restive Sinai Peninsula, while gunmen shot dead a policeman in the Suez canal city of Ismailia.

In the Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, militants Tuesday planted a bomb under a pipeline that transports gas to an industrial area south of Al-Arish city, security officials said.

The pipeline carries natural gas to Jordan and feeds heavy industry factories in central Sinai.

No one was injured in the attack, the fourth this year in the restive peninsula.

The officials say pipeline technicians were forced to shut the flow of gas in order to get the fire under control. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media.

There have been scores of attacks on the pipeline since the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak and the security vacuum that ensued.

A Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for several such bombings.

In Ismailia, two unknown gunmen riding a motorcycle shot dead a policeman while he was standing at a traffic light, officials said.

Since January 23, 18 policemen have been killed in militant attacks, according to an AFP tally based on reports by security officials.

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