Explosion hits gas pipeline in Egypt's Sinai, no casualties

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) - An explosion on a key natural gas pipeline in Egypt's troubled northern Sinai Peninsula caused a fire but no human casualties, a senior official said.
North Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha said the explosion picked up speed in the provincial capital El-Arish late Thursday. In a statement, he said the explosion would not affect the pipeline's supplies to the residential areas of el-Arish or any industrial area in central Sinai.
An investigation was underway to determine the cause of the explosion, Shousha said.
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However, other security officials and eyewitnesses said militants planted explosives in the pipeline before escaping the scene. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have the authority to inform the media and asked the eyewitnesses not to be named for fear of reprisals.
No group immediately took responsibility for the explosion.
A similar explosion struck a gas pipeline in northern Sinai last month and was alleged by the Islamic State Group's subsidiary.
According to IS, militants detonated several explosive devices to damage a pipeline that transports natural gas from Egypt to Israel. The group provided no evidence to support their claim.
Egypt has been fighting an uprising in northern Sinai for years, which is now being led by the IS subsidiary. The fighting intensified in 2013 after the military toppled the country's elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.
Authorities severely restrict access to northern Sinai, making it difficult to verify allegations related to the fighting.
IS has carried out a number of major attacks in Egypt in recent years, mainly against members of the security forces and the Christian minority of Egypt.
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