'Egyptian soldier killed in Sinai terrorist clash'

Soldier killed during clashes with armed Islamists sparked by attack on security headquarters; 10 arrested, AFP reports.

September 17, 2012 01:46
1 minute read.
Egyptian soldiers in Rafah in the Sinai Peninsula

Egyptian soldiers in Sinai 370. (photo credit: reuters)

An Egyptian soldier was killed Sunday in an exchange of fire between terrorists and Egyptian troops and security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali said, according to AFP.

Security officials told AFP that the soldier, Alaa Mohammed Eid, was shot in the stomach and succumbed to his injuries after being transferred to a Cairo hospital.

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The clashes were sparked after a security building in the Sinai was attacked, and three policemen were wounded in separate fighting in the area, security officials said.

Islamists attacked Egypt's security headquarters in northern Sinai with a barrage of mortar bombs and machine-gun fire and fought police elsewhere in the desert region, wounding three conscripts, security officials said.

The Islamists had climbed onto the roofs of buildings across from the headquarters building in El Arish and fired rocket-propelled grenades, one security source said.

Machine-gun battles were still being fought in the streets around the building, witnesses said.

About 30 armored personnel carriers backed by helicopters fought terrorists in the town of Sheikh Zuwaid, 30 km east of El Arish on the Mediterranean coast.

Fighting stopped after the armed men fled the area, according to an official, who added, “It seems they set off an explosive device at the security headquarters first before using the RPGs.”

Officials later said the military operation to stop the fighting, which involved the air force, resulted in the arrest of 10 suspected militants in a village east of Sheik Zuweyid.

Egyptian forces last month began their biggest security sweep in decades in Sinai after terrorists killed 16 border guards on August 5 in the most deadly attack since Egypt's 1973 war with Israel. The attack killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The government sent hundreds of troops with tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters to Sinai in a joint operation with police to raid militant hideouts, arrest suspects and seize weapons.

Disorder has spread in Sinai since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising, with Islamist militants stepping up attacks on Egyptian security forces and the Israeli border. Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsy, has vowed to restore order.

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