09/08/2012

Middle East on fire: Egypt troops move into Israel border zone

Today - AL-ARISH, Egypt (Reuters) - Gunman fired shots towards a police station in the main administrative centre of Egypt's North Sinai on Thursday, underscoring lawlessness in the desert region bordering Israel as a Egyptian military offensive there entered its second day.

Hundreds of troops in armored cars drove out of the town to hunt Islamist militants blamed for killing 16 Egyptian border guards on Sunday, the biggest spike in violence which has been growing steadily since last year's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

The gunfire in al-Arish, the nerve centre of the government's otherwise shaky control of the North Sinai region, showed how difficult it will be for Egypt to impose order. It followed attacks on checkpoints in the town on Wednesday.

Israel has welcomed Egypt's offensive while continuing to express worries about the deteriorating situation in Sinai, home to anti-Israel militants, Bedouin tribes angered by neglect by Cairo, gun-runners, drug smugglers and al Qaeda sympathizers.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Egypt was acting "to an extent and with a determination that I cannot previously recall".

"Whether this ends with (their) regained control of Sinai and allows us not to worry as much as we have in the past few months, this I do not know," he told Israel Radio.

The unidentified gunmen in al-Arish fled before police could respond, a security source said, denying a report by state television that police had fought back.

Hundreds of troops and dozens of military vehicles had reached the town, security sources said, part of an offensive not seen since Egypt's 1973 war with Israel.


http://news.yahoo.com/egyptian-police-clash-armed-men-nor...

 

Photo: killings in Libya

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