Rafah gunmen 'infidels' - Egypt
RAFAH – Egypt branded as “infidels” Islamist gunmen who killed 16 police near the Israeli border and promised yesterday to launch a crackdown following the massacre, which has strained Cairo’s ties with both Israel and the Palestinians.
An Egyptian official said jihadist militants crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip before attacking the border station on Sunday. They then stole two vehicles and headed to nearby Israel, where they were eventually killed by Israeli fire.
Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that up to eight assailants died in the attack, adding that he hoped the incident would serve as a “wake-up call” to Egypt.
The bloodshed represented an early diplomatic test for Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Mr Morsi visited the border area yesterday, accompanied by the head of Egypt’s military, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. The army sent in reinforcements and stepped up checkpoints.
Egypt’s military, which still holds many of the levers of power, called the attackers “infidels” and said it had been patient until now in the face of instability in Sinai.
“But there is a red line and passing it is not acceptable. Egyptians will not wait for long to see a reaction to this event,” it said in a statement on its Facebook page.
A largely demilitarised Sinai is the keystone of the historic 1979 peace deal between the two countries. – (Reuters)