Egypt has long been a refuge for African migrants, but racist harassment is reportedly on the rise.
A group of attackers has blown up a gas pipeline in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, security sources said on Sunday, but imports of gas from Israel were unaffected.
The armed men, wearing masks, detonated explosives in the attack carried out about 80km (50 miles) west of the provincial capital El Arish, the sources told news agencies.
The explosion caused a fire, but no casualties or injuries have so far been reported.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement posted on its Telegram chat groups, the group said its fighters targeted “the natural gas line linking the Jews and the apostate Egyptian government”.
According to sources, the gas pipeline hit was a domestic one that connects to a power station in El Arish that supplies electricity to homes and factories in central Sinai.
However, some media reports in Egypt and Israel said the section of pipeline hit was part of Israel’s Leviathan offshore field operations.
The Leviathan consortium denied the claim in a statement. “The flow of gas from Leviathan to Egypt is continuing as normal,” it said.
Israel began pumping natural gas to Egypt for the first time in January under a multibillion-dollar, 15-year landmark deal to liquefy and re-export it to Europe.
Egypt hopes the recently inked deal will position it to become a regional gas hub.
The pipeline, owned by the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), includes a subsea connection between El Arish in Sinai and Ashkelon in Israel.
Leviathan, one of the two offshore fields managed by Israeli and American firms in the deal, is estimated to hold 535 billion cubic metres (18.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas and 34.1 million barrels of condensate.
Egypt’s petroleum ministry did not respond to a request for comment, reported AFP.