The Edge of Terrorism
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|Terrence Sterling||August 8th 2012|
From VOA, RFE and Agencies
Egyptian security officials say the military has carried out an assault on suspected Palestinian Gaza terrorists in the Sinai peninsula following new attacks against checkpoints. Officials say the airstrikes Wednesday killed 20 militants. The strikes came hours after an attack against checkpoints in the city of El-Arish, about 50 kilometers from the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian military and President Mohamed Mursi had vowed to assert more control over the border area following an attack Sunday that killed 16 Egyptian border guards. Egypt said Gaza terrorists involved in the attack were trying to cross into Israel.
Egyptian security officials say they used army attack helicopters to fire missiles at suspected Islamic terrorists in Sinai following simultaneous attacks by armed men on three security checkpoints. It was the first time Egypt's army has fired missiles in the area since the 1973 war with Israel to recapture the Sinai Peninsula. The missile strikes came hours after the militant attacks near northern Sinai's main city of Al-Arish, about 50 kilometers from the Gaza-Israel border. Officials say a military officer, two soldiers, two police and a civilian were injured by the militants early on August 8. State media quote Egyptian military sources who say 20 militants were killed by the air strikes.Witnesses in Sheikh Zouaid, about 10 km (six miles) from Gaza, said they saw two military jets and heard sounds of explosions. Other witnesses in a nearby area said they saw three cars hit.
Egypt's President Muhammad Morsi vowed to retake "full control" of the Sinai, saying Palestinian terrorists would "pay dearly." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on August 7 telephoned Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to voice support for Cairo's efforts to strengthen security in Sinai. Murad Muwafi, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, confirmed that his group secured advance information relating to a potential terrorist attack prior to the attack on Sunday night.
After the attacks, Egypt moved in heavy machinery to beef up its total blockade of Gaza tunnels and access points.