SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Egypt President Mohamed Morsi announced three days of mourning across the country following the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers near Rafah in the Sinai Peninsula.
The president’s spokesman Yasser Ali said that security forces are working hard on the investigation to find out who was behind the soldiers’ killing.
This is the worst attack on Egyptian border guards since the peace treaty with Israel was established in 1979.
President Morsi decided to honor the dead soldiers and grant them the status of “martyrs” similar to those who lost their lives in the January 25 uprising.
An Egyptian official was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying, “Jihadist elements” had crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip before launching the assault on a border police station.
They then stole two armored vehicles and tried to smash their way into Israel, but were killed by Israeli troops on the border.
Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that 8 attackers died in the attack, adding that he hoped the incident would serve as a “wake-up call” to Egypt, which he has long said is losing its grip in Sinai.
“The bodies of the five gunmen have been found by the Israeli army,” an Israeli spokesman said without giving any details.
Eyewitnesses said the attack came as the soldiers at the checkpoint were breaking their Ramzan fast. They said the soldiers were caught totally off guard and had no chance to retaliate.
On Monday morning, Morsi held an emergency meeting with military and intelligence officials and later in a televised address vowed to retake control of the Sinai.
“The security forces will take full control of the area,” the president said.—www.shafaqna.com/english