Last updated: 16 August, 2011

Egypt army arrest four gunmen in Sinai

The Egyptian army on Tuesday arrested four gunmen in the Sinai peninsula as they prepared to detonate a device near the pipeline to Israel near the city of Al-Arish, a security source said.

“Security guards near the terminal informed the army of suspicious movements,” the source said. “Members of the armed forces, backed by armoured cars, immediately headed to the region and managed to encircle the four.”

Automatic weapons and an explosive device have been seized and the four are being interrogated, he added.

The pipeline to Israel has been targeted five times this year and the Egyptian army and police have launched a joint operation in the Sinai against the attackers who have also attacked a police station in Al-Arish.

Around 1,000 soldiers and policemen forces were deployed last Friday and Saturday in northern Sinai to carry out the operation dubbed “Eagle.”

Egypt supplies about 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas, which is used to produce electricity.

On Monday, Israeli public radio said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved Egypt’s request to increase the number of troops in the Sinai to “restore order” in the region.

The number of Egyptian forces in the peninsula are limited by the terms of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

After the fall of president Hosni Mubarak on February 11, the new government in Cairo has said it does not intend to challenge the agreement, but has distanced itself from the Jewish state.

Egyptian authorities have also decided to review all gas agreements and open investigations on the pricing of controversial contracts to sell gas to Israel.