Maskerte menn drepte 15 egyptiske soldater ved grensebyen Rafah inn til Gaza. Det er en av de alvorligste episoder på lang tid.
Sinai er i ferd med å bli et lovløst område.
Masked gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers Sunday at a checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel, the first such attack on troops — and then the attackers drove off, crashing into Israel, officials said.
Egypt blamed Islamist militants from Gaza and Egypt’s troubled Sinai Peninsula. President Mohammed Morsi said the attackers «will pay dearly.»
The Israeli military said the attack was part of a plot to abduct an Israeli soldier, and two vehicles commandeered by the attackers crashed into Israel, where one blew up.
In a statement, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel’s military and the internal security agency «thwarted an attack that could have injured many. The militants’ attack methods again raise the need for determined Egyptian action to enforce security and prevent terror in the Sinai.»
The attack took place around sunset in the Egyptian border town of Rafah, when the
troops were having the traditional meal at the end of the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Egyptian state TV said the attack on the checkpoint was carried out by Islamist militants. The report said 16 troops were killed in the attack coordinated between Palestinians who entered Egypt from Gaza and Egyptians in Sinai.
Emergency services official Ahmed el-Ansari told Egypt’s news agency that seven were wounded by gunfire.
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi convened an emergency meeting with military and security leaders following the attack. In a statement from the president’s office, Morsi offered his condolences to the families of the dead and said the «cowardly» attack will not go «without a response.»
«Those who carried out this crime will pay dearly,» Morsi’s statement said.
The head of the border guards, a paramilitary force under the command of Egypt’s Defense Ministry, went to the scene of the attack, the TV said.
In a statement late Sunday, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptian authorities to take all necessary measures to «confront this serious challenge to the Egyptian sovereignty and to protect Sinai from all armed groups.»
It was one of the bloodiest attacks in Sinai in years and the deadliest against Egyptian troops, underlining the growing lawlessness of the Egyptian territory, where security forces have become targets of militants, some loosely linked with al-Qaida.
By Haggag Salama, AP