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Egypt officials: Suspected al-Qaida-inspired militants blow up natural gas pipeline in Sinai

FILE - In this Friday, Jan, 24, 2014 file photo, Egyptian security forces detain one of the supporters for ousted President Mohammed Morsi as they protest in Cairo's Nasr City district, Egypt. On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, the third anniversary of the day Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt’s president after an 18-day uprising, the government blocked access to Tahrir Square and letters emerged from activists reporting that they have been beaten and subjected to other abuses by police after being arrested in a string of protests in late January. (AP Photos/El Shorouk newspaper, Sabry Khaled, File) EGYPT OUT

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FILE - In this Friday, Jan, 24, 2014 file photo, Egyptian security forces detain one of the supporters for ousted President Mohammed Morsi as they protest in Cairo's Nasr City district, Egypt. On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, the third anniversary of the day Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt’s president after an 18-day uprising, the government blocked access to Tahrir Square and letters emerged from activists reporting that they have been beaten and subjected to other abuses by police after being arrested in a string of protests in late January. (AP Photos/El Shorouk newspaper, Sabry Khaled, File) EGYPT OUT

EL-ARISH, Egypt - Egyptian security officials say suspected al-Qaida-inspired militants have blown up a natural gas pipeline in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

The officials say the explosion took place early Tuesday in a desert area south of el-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai. The pipeline carries natural gas to Jordan and feeds heavy industry factories in central Sinai.

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 Beit al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for several such bombings.

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