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Egypt remains tense; sabotage adds new dimension to unrest

The attackers used explosives to blow up the 240km- long pipeline in the town of Lihfen.

Written by Agencies | Cairo |
February 5, 2011 5:56:35 pm

Uncertainty and tension gripped Egypt with international clamour growing on beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak to hand over power immediately as saboteurs blew up a key gas pipeline to Israel adding a fresh dimension to the 12-day old crisis in the Arab nation.

As unprecedented protests raged at the famous Tahrir Square in central Cairo,the state TV reported “dangerous explosions continuing from one spot to another” in the main source of gas supplying pipeline in El Arish.

The attackers used explosives to blow up the 240km- long pipeline in the town of Lihfen in northern Sinai near the Gaza Strip and the army shut down the gas supplies to Israel and Jordan,Egyptian officials said.

“It’s big terrorist operation,” the state-tv quoted an official as saying,who blamed the attack on “foreign elements.”

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The attack on the pipeline came after Israel,which receives 40 per cent of its gas demand from Egypt,expressed concern that the supplies could be threatened if a new regime takes over in Cairo.

The attack happened as tens of thousands of people held demonstrations against Mubarak with no sign of an end to confrontation which has pitted the 82-year-old leader against the anti-government protesters.

With no let up in protests fury,President Mubarak,who appeared increasingly cornered,held a meeting of his new cabinet to revive the economy and project calm in the face of the increasing turmoil.

The meeting was attended by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq as well as the central bank governor and the ministers of petroleum,social solidarity,trade and industry,and finance.

Finance Minister Samir Radwan announced that the banks and stock market will reopen by Monday as he termed the economic situation in the country as “very serious”.

Government analyst claim that the uprising is costing the country at least USD 310 million a day.

The President appears to have dug in his heels with the prime minister announcing that Mubarak had no intention to quit or transfer power to his deputy Omar Suleiman as being suggested by the country’s major allies like US.

The state-tv reported that Mubarak’s meeting took place on Saturday morning in the presidential palace Heliopolis,a Cairo suburb miles away from Tahrir Square.

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