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Army closes all entrances to Sinai Peninsula after terrorist attack

July 15, 2013, 14:00 UTC+3

After the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by military forces extremists in Sinai have repeatedly attacked the military and the police

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After the terrorist attack in the north of Sinai, the army has closed today all entrances to the peninsula. With the support of aircraft, fitted with night-vision equipment, and heavy armored vehicles, they are searching the criminals. Troops and military police units are in full combat readiness.

Terrorist attack in Sinai: versions

The bus with workers that were going to the cement plant in Sheikh Zuweid, a town near the border with the Gaza Strip, has been undermined. According to some reports, the bomb, destined to the column of army armored vehicles that had passed shortly before, went off. Al-Watan newspaper claims that the bus was fired from hand-grenade launcher, and the militants targeting at civilians were looking at the burning car and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’.

According to initial reports from local media, the victims of the attack could be up to 20 people. Now it is officially confirmed that three people are dead. Heavy injures received more than 18 people. They are taken to the hospital. According to incoming reports, the access of ambulances to the place of attack is hampered, and they cannot take out all the victims yet.

"Zone of war against terror"

After the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by military forces extremists in Sinai have repeatedly attacked the military and the police. Victims of the militants were more than 15 people. Armed Islamists that support the former head of Egypt have previously made ​​several attacks on military targets in the northern part of the peninsula, shot police officers in El-Arish, injuring about 20 security officials.

At night on July 10 the militants carried out three attacks on security forces. Rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons were shot at long range at central security apparatus camp in Rafah, near the border with Gaza strip. Later, an armed group on a SUV opened fire at checkpoint guards near the entrance to the airport of El-Arish.

Following forays of militants, Egyptian army announced the reduction of the army on full alert in the Sinai and Suez in the north-east of the country. Military declared North Sinai a "zone of war against terror."

The situation in the Sinai Peninsula

Egypt's armed forces began an anti-terrorist operation in the Sinai code-named ‘Eagle’ in August 2011. Its purpose was to eliminate the underground cells of extremists who repeatedly blew up gas pipelines on the way to Israel and Jordan. A year later, after the armed militants on August 5 attacked a border crossing near the town of Rafah, a new phase of the attack on terrorists began. It was the largest operation since 1979, when a peace treaty with Israel was signed.

Then, the actions of Egyptian authorities have not caused serious objections from the Israelis, who approved the placement of additional units of the army, including the use of helicopter gunships and tanks. Meanwhile, according to the peace agreement, Sinai should have remained a demilitarized zone. It also limits the use of heavy artillery and fighters by Egyptians in some areas.

Now, according to representatives of the Egyptian command, the operation which hasn’t stopped is part of a major new stage. According to some reports, the Israeli side has already agreed to place at the airport of El Arish an Egyptian Air Force Base, the striking force of which would include helicopter gunships and fighter jets.

Earlier, one of the senior leaders of the political wing of the "Muslim Brotherhood" - Freedom and Justice Party - Mohamed Al-Beltagy, openly declared that the activation of the terrorists in Sinai is directly connected with the removal of Morsi from power.

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