Islamic militants warn Egypt army on Sinai raids (AP) Associated Press) By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF CAIRO, EGYPT 08/15/12 12:56 pm ET)
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CAIRO – Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula warned the Egyptian
military on Wednesday against cracking down on jihadis and claimed
they were not behind a sneak attack earlier this month that killed 16
In a statement posted on a website which usually carries al-Qaida and
similar groups´ statements, the militants said their main focus is
Israel and that they do not target Egyptians soldiers. There was no
way to independently verify it.
"Prevent bloodshed, blood which has been spilled and which will be
spilled if this aggression continues. You are dragging us to a battle
that is not ours," the statement read.
"Our weapon is not directed at you," it continued, adding: "We don´t
want to turn our rage against you ... have mercy on the soldiers you
are using as fuel in the battle."
Islamic militants are believed to be behind the August 5 assault that
killed the 16 soldiers in what was the worst attack on troops from
inside Egypt in living memory. Gunmen stormed a security checkpoint
near the border between Gaza and Israel and killed the soldiers while
they were breaking their fast for the holy month of Ramadan.
The attackers then commandeered an armored vehicle and stormed across
the border into Israel, where an Israeli airstrike knocked out the
vehicle and killed at least six militants.
The attacks prompted the military to launch an offensive in the
increasingly volatile peninsula. Most operations there however remain
limited and objectives are unclear. However, for the first time since
Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel, military helicopters, tanks
and troops have been deployed there — a move which before had not
been allowed under the deal.
The attack is also believed to have triggered a drastic political and
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi ordered longtime defense minister
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, his aid Lt. Gen. Sami Anan and other
members of the military council — which took power after the ouster
of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak in last year´s uprising — into
retirement. Morsi also sacked the intelligence chief and the governor
of Northern Sinai.
It is not clear who issued Wednesday´s statement. It is signed
by "the Jihadist Salafis of Sinai" which could refer to several small
Jihadist groups that are active in the area.
Large swaths of northern Sinai have plunged into lawlessness
following Mubarak´s ouster, and weapons smuggled from Libya have
found their way into militants´ hands. The weapons and the security
vacuum fueled the rise of al-Qaida-inspired militant groups which
have staged several low-level cross-border attacks on Israel. (© 2012
The Associated Press 08/15/12)
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