Egypt hails ´complete success´ in air strikes against Sinai ´terrorists´ (TELEGRAPH UK) 08/09/12)
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Egypt´s army declared military operations that killed 20 militants in
a raid using helicopter gun ships to be a "complete success" after
the first Egyptian air strikes in Sinai for 40 years.
The attacks around the town of Sheikh Zuwaid, six miles from the Gaza
Strip is the first time the Egyptian military has used air power in
the contested border region with Israel since the Yom Kippur war in
The military operation came as Egypt masses troops near the Rafah
border town, on its Sinai frontier with Israel, for a decisive
confrontation with the militants.
A senior Egyptian military official in Sinai, said “20 terrorists
were killed” in Apache helicopter air strikes and when soldiers with
the 2nd Infantry Division stormed the village of al-Toumah, near
"Elements from the armed forces and interior ministry supported by
the air force began a plan to restore security by pursuing and
targeting armed terrorist elements in Sinai, and it has accomplished
this task with complete success," said an army statement.
Egyptian state news agency MENA gave an account of how the Islamist
militants were killed.
"Terrorist elements fired rockets and shells and heavy machine guns
at the aircraft combing the area, but did not hit the aircraft, and
ground forces then dealt with them and killed a number of them," it
The use of air power marked a sharp escalation in Egypt´s fight
against Islamic militants who have become increasingly active in the
mountainous, desert peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza.
Islamist gunmen killed 16 border guards on Sunday in the bloodiest
attack on Egyptian security forces in recent times.
The insurgents seized two armoured vehicles to storm through the
border into Israel, where they were eventually killed by Israeli fire.
The air strikes came a day after the military held a funeral for the
16 soldiers killed on Sunday´s attack by militants amid widespread
calls for vengeance.
Security forces had raided homes on Tuesday in search of suspects in
the attack, as they prepared to close tunnels to the Palestinian Gaza
Strip used to smuggle weapons and militants as well as food and other
Israel has handed over to Egypt six "completely charred" bodies that
were in the terrorist armoured personnel carrier that was driven into
Israel after attacking Egyptian soldiers before being destroyed.
The bodies have not yet been identified. But security officials blame
Bedouin militants and Palestinian Islamists from Gaza for the attack.
Sunday´s bloodshed highlighted the government´s tenuous grip on the
Sinai Peninsula, from where Islamist militants have launched several
rocket attacks on Israel and a deadly cross border raid last year.
It also presents a challenge to Egypt´s new Islamist President
Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood has good relations with the
Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.
President Morsi did not attend the funeral, where some protesters
chanted slogans against the Brotherhood, and according to witnesses,
tried to assault the Islamist Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.
His spokesman said in a statement that MMr orsi did not attend
because the security measures needed to guard the president would
have impinged on the "popular character" of the ceremony.
Following Sunday´s attack, Egypt closed until further notice its
Rafah crossing with Gaza, the Palestinian territory´s only access to
the outside world that is not controlled by Israel.
Israel says it has agreed in the past to Egyptian requests to bring
more troops into Sinai and the terms of the treaty are no obstacle to
combating militants threatening both countries.
“What we see in Egypt is a strong fury, a determination of the regime
and the army to take care of it and impose order in Sinai because
that is their responsibility,” senior Israeli defence official Amos
Gilad said on Israel Radio on Wednesday.
“This is an Egyptian action that is being handled by the Egyptians on
the basis of the information they have,” he said. “If they don´t
remove and uproot (the threat), it will continue to strike.”
Sources: AFP, AP and Reuters (© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group
Limited 2012. 08/09/12)
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