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Debate lingers over Egyptian gas pipeline

CAIRO, June 30 (UPI) -- Natural gas supplies to Jordan and Syria were down this week because protesters lit vehicles on fire near a major pipeline, Egyptian officials said.

Egyptian gas officials said increased security was ordered for major natural gas arteries in the country because bandits damaged a major pipeline in a raid.

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Authorities said they closed the Arab Gas Pipeline early this week to let engineers repair the damage.

Mourad Mawafi, the governor of North Sinai province, said reports on a bombing of the pipeline were overstated, Egyptian daily newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reports.

"All the talk about the pipeline being bombed is just baseless rumor," the governor said. "The gas flow resumed Monday after being shut off on Sunday when cars were lit on fire near the pipeline."

The Sinai Peninsula has witnessed a spate of violence in recent weeks. Authorities in northern Egypt accuse Bedouin nomads of launching attacks in the region. Bedouins said the government is holding their tribesman illegally, the report adds.

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