Egypt: Seven Militants Killed in Sinai

Sunday, 12 August 2012 07:21 AM

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Egyptian military forces killed seven suspected militants on Sunday during raids on hideouts in a village in northern Sinai, security officials said.

Tensions in Sinai, the desert peninsula that borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, have escalated sharply over the past week after suspected militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the border. The deaths were the first reported casualties among suspected militants since Egypt launched a major offensive against the groups and sent reinforcements to the area following the attack last Sunday.

Security officials said the raids targeted the villages near El-Arish of al-Ghora and al-Mahdiyah and the forces seized landmines, an anti-aircraft missile and heavy machine-guns. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

In a separate incident, three policemen were killed and four others injured when their car turned over while chasing a group of criminals in central Sinai, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency, MENA, reported.

It also said that suspected militants fired at a security checkpoint before escaping in northern Sinai on Saturday. No casualties were reported.

Large swathes of northern Sinai have plunged into lawlessness following Hosni Mubarak's ouster in the uprising last year, with a massive flow of arms smuggled from Libya finding their way into the hands of disgruntled Bedouins. The lawlessness is coupled with the rise there of al-Qaida-inspired militant groups waging a campaign of violence against Egyptian security forces. They have also staged several cross-border attacks on Israel.

Some of Sinai's native Bedouins are resentful of what they see as the police's heavy-handedness and neglect by the central government in Cairo. Recent years saw some Bedouins trafficking in black African migrants seeking a better life in neighboring Israel, growing illicit drugs and supplying Gaza's merchants with goods that are smuggled through a network of underground tunnels.

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Sunday, 12 August 2012 07:21 AM
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