President Mohamed Morsi has called for an urgent meeting with Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to discuss the recent explosion that left a number of Egyptian soldiers dead and injured near Egypt’s border with the besieged Gaza Strip.
According to media reports on Sunday evening, the attack involved a military vehicle, reportedly hijacked earlier, which exploded around 7pm.
According to Egypt’s health ministry, at least 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed and seven injured in the explosion that went off at a military zone on Sunday, near the city of Rafah, according to Al-Ahram Arabic-language news portal.
Investigations by authorities into the attack have been immediately opened as no group has claimed responsibility yet.
However, the Egyptian state TV claimed that elements of Islamic extremist groups situated in the Sinai peninsula had carried out the attack by iftar (the hour when people have their meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan), but provided no details.
An anonymous Egyptian security official was quoted by Egypt’s state-run news agency as saying that Islamist elements who infiltrated Egypt from the Gaza Strip through tunnels are behind the attacks, along with other Islamists situated in the areas of El-Halal Mountain and El-Mahdia in eastern Sinai.
Meanwhile, Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declared on Twitter that the Israeli Army had reported that no Israelis had been killed in the attack.
Gendelman also said that Israeli troops had been “combing” the nearby Kerem Abu Salam border area looking for “terrorists” whom he said had entered the self-proclaimed Jewish state from Egypt.
The Netanyahu spokesperson added that, apart from a military vehicle that had exploded and killed several Egyptian soldiers, a second vehicle, which he claimed had been “hijacked,” had been destroyed by the Israeli air force.
“One of the military vehicles exploded at the Kerem Shalom [Kerem Abu Salam] crossing. The second vehicle was targeted by the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] from the air,” he tweeted in English.
He added in Arabic: “Apparently the ‘terrorists’ who penetrated the borders with two vehicles had planned for a very big terrorist operation on our territory. This attempt has been aborted.”
(english.ahram.org.eg / 05.08.2012)