As many as 16 Egyptian police officers were killed Sunday when terrorists stormed a police position near the Egypt-Israel border and hijacked two armoured vehicles in one of the boldest terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula in recent years. The assault came around dusk when gunmen rushed an outpost after officers had broken their Ramadan fast.
The IDF said militants stole two armoured vehicles and began driving towards the Israeli border. One of the vehicles blew up near the Kerem Shalom border crossing. The second vehicle was stopped when an Israeli aircraft targeted it. Some militants escaped the wreckage and were rounded up by Israeli forces. It is not clear how many gunmen were killed or wounded. The IDF and Israeli police overnight continued to search the area near the border, and additional troops were deployed, in case any of the gunmen escaped inside Israel.
The nationality of the attackers was not immediately disclosed but in recent months north Sinai has become an operating ground for Palestinian militants connected to Hamas and other radical groups in the Gaza Strip, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Global Jihadi groups have also infiltrated the Sinai and significantly increased their involvement in terrorist attacks in the region.
Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak, speaking after the incident, said the attack showed the need for “determined Egyptian action” to impose security and “prevent terror in Sinai”.
Following the attack, Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi called for an emergency meeting with the military, and state TV reported that the Rafah border crossing would be closed indefinitely. “There is no room for appeasing this treason, this aggression and criminality,” Mursi said. “The [security] forces will take full control of these regions,” he added, referring to Sinai.