JERUSALEM, Israel -- Unidentified assailants blew up Egypt's natural gas pipeline Monday evening for the thirteenth time since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime a little over a year ago.
The pipeline, which transports gas to Jordan and Egypt, had been closed for repairs from the last attack on Feb. 5. Gasco, a subsidiary of Egypt's national gas company, which operates the pipeline, had just resumed transports three days ago.
Monday's bombing took place in the same area, just north of el-Arish in the Sinai Desert.
According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen remotely detonated two bombs planted about 15 meters (yards) apart, sending flames and plumes of black smoke into the air that could be seen 30 miles away.
Jordan depends on the imported gas to generate nearly 80 percent of its electricity, while Israel imports a little over 40 percent of its natural gas supply from Egypt.
The current Egyptian government has threatened to renegotiate the 20-year gas export contract with Israel, signed in 2005 with the Mubarak regime, saying the price is too low.
Israel, meanwhile, is planning to develop a huge large natural gas deposit discovered off its northern coast. Estimated to contain as much as 16 trillion cubic feet, it will not only meet Israel's needs, but allow the Jewish state to export natural gas.