Ansar Beit al-Maqdes targets gas pipeline to military factory

Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdes has claimed responsibility for the gas pipeline blast that took place on January 17, according to a statement released late Sunday from the group.

The blast targeted a pipeline that connects gas supplies from Arish to an army cement factory in an industrial zone located in central Sinai, state news agency MENA reported.

“Let everyone know that, with God’s help, we are determined to cut off gas supplies to the Armed Forces cement factory as we previously halted exports to the Zionist entity,” the statement read.

The pipelines in Sinai were attacked on an almost monthly basis in the aftermath of the January 25 uprising in 2011, and the blasts aimed to halt gas exports to Israel. Now the group has vowed to target the pipelines to the army factory with similar animosity.

As of mid-2012, the supply between Egypt and Jordan was interrupted at least 15 times since January 2011. An attack in early July was the first bombing reported in almost a year, taking place just days after the ouster of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Friday’s blast was the first of 2014.

On Monday, Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi condemned the bombing and said that acts of terrorism will not stop Egypt from implementing its roadmap. Now that the constitution has passed with a sweeping majority after the January 14-15 referendum, parliamentary and presidential elections are set to follow.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdes has claimed responsibility for a number of violent acts since Morsi’s ouster, the first being an attempted assassination on Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in September.

On January 8, the group said it had captured four union leaders in Sinai while they were en route to Sharm el-Sheikh for a conference to promote a “yes” vote in the constitutional referendum. The four included the president, secretary general and undersecretary of the Tourism Syndicate, as well as the undersecretary of the Manpower Committee in Sinai, according to the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.

The statement said they were holding four leaders of the “heathen regime,” demanded the release of female detainees, and threatened more violence if their demands are not met.

The group had also claimed responsibility for the bombing of the State Security building in Mansoura in December 2013. A deadly car bomb targeting the Daqahlia security headquarters in Mansoura left 16 people dead and more than 140 injured.

On Friday, the same day as the pipeline blast, four people were killed in clashes between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and security forces. 

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