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Sinai jihadists: Israel, not Egypt, is our target (ISRAEL HAYOM) Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff 08/16/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=5433 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Salafi Jihadi, one of the biggest jihadist groups in Sinai, warns Egyptian army that military crackdown on jihadists in the area will force it to fight back • Stop the bloodshed or else you will be dragging us into a battle that is not ours, they warn.

An Islamist terrorist group operating in Egypt´s Sinai Peninsula bordering with Israel warned the Egyptian army on Wednesday that an ongoing military crackdown on jihadists in the area will force it to fight back.

The Egyptian army has been hunting terrorists in the Sinai desert since an attack last week left 16 Egyptian border guards dead. Egypt blamed the attack on Islamist militants.

The army operation is the biggest in almost three decades in the tense border region where troop and army vehicle movements are strictly limited under the terms of Egypt´s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

"We have never raised our weapons against the Egyptian army," the Salafi Jihadi, one of the biggest jihadist groups in Sinai, said in a statement. "So stop the bloodshed or else you will be dragging us into a battle that is not ours," the group said, addressing the Egyptian army.

The group, belonging to the Salafist jihadists currently in Sinai, denied involvement in the attack on Egyptian border guards and said its true fight was with the "Zionist enemy" Israel.

Security officials had said that 20 terrorists were killed by the Egyptian army on the first day of the Sinai sweep on Aug. 8.

The conflict is an early test for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi — an Islamist elected in June following the overthrow last year of Hosni Mubarak — to prove he can rein in militants.

The Salafi Jihadi statement said other jihadist groups, which it did not name, were behind past attacks on the pipeline that delivers natural gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan.

The group also said Sinai jihadists had fired rockets at Israel in the last few years. Egypt had repeatedly denied that rockets had ever been fired from Sinai into Israel.

Disorder has spread in northern Sinai, a region with many guns and much resentment over neglect by Cairo. Bedouin tribes now control some areas that were cleared by Egyptian police during last year´s uprising against Mubarak, who had worked closely with Israel to secure the border region.

Morsi, who took office in June, has promised to restore stability.


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