Egyptian policeman killed near border, official denies suicide attack

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AL-ARISH/CAIRO: An Egyptian policeman was killed in a gunfight near the border with Israel on Friday, security officials and medics said, adding that another policeman was in coma after he was shot in the head, AFP reported.


Meanwhile, an official security source denied news circulated by Israeli media about Egyptian army forces being subjected to a suicide attack on Friday near the border with Israel.

The source, who declined to be named, said that Egyptian forces have been sweeping the border with Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip in a bid to find any suspects who carried out the recent attacks whether in Egypt or in Israel.

Officials also denied Thursday evening Israeli media reports about the Rafah border crossing being closed until further notice following the attacks in Egypt and Israel, the official Middle East News Agency reported.

Also on Thursday evening, masked gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Al-Arish, killing one army officer and injuring two soldiers, Egyptian security sources said.

About eight unidentified armed men in two trucks with no license plates shot at a checkpoint in El-Reesa, east of Al-Arish in North Sinai, and the ensuing exchange of fire with security forces resulted in the deaths before gunmen fled the scene, the sources added.

A total of 24 suspects have been detained over the past four days during a joint Egyptian army and police security operation to hunt down militants in North Sinai believed to be behind recent attacks in the area.

Egyptian army forces’ presence in North Sinai is limited as stipulated by the peace treaty singed with Israel.

On July 29, dozens of armed men attacked a police station in Al-Arish and exchanged fire with security forces. The attack resulted in the death of one police officer, one army officer and a low-ranking policeman. Twelve police officers and 10 civilians were also injured in the crossfire.

Clashes continued until the early hours of July 30, before unidentified gunmen attacked, for the fifth time since February, a natural gas pipeline located about 15 kilometers from Al-Arish. The pipeline delivers gas to Israel and Jordan.

A few days after the July attacks, a group naming itself the Al-Qaeda Network in Sinai Peninsula released a statement that demanded the province be turned into an Islamic Caliphate. The group urged the Egyptian army to breach the Camp David Peace Accords and interfere to end the Gaza siege.

However, North Sinai Police Directorate Chief General Saleh El-Masry denied in recent press statements that Al-Qaeda had any branches in the area.

The Thursday attack coincided with a separate incident in Central Sinai where one Egyptian army officer and two soldiers were killed in crossfire as the Israeli military chased militants along the border of Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Taba in South Sinai and the Israeli city of Eilat.

"An Israeli plane had been chasing militant infiltrators along the border between Taba and Eliat and one Egyptian Central Security officer and two Central Security men were caught in the line of fire," an army official said.

Earlier on Thursday gunmen killed seven people in southern Israel in attacks along Egypt’s border, prompting Israel to chase infiltrators along the border and launch an air strike in the Gaza Strip that killed six Palestinians.

Other unconfirmed reports said Israel’s government warned Israeli citizens against traveling to the resorts in Sinai Peninsula. –Daily News Egypt with additional reporting by agencies



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